Mobile Suit Gundam SEED DESTINY - Red Planet

Disclaimer: Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED DESTINY, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED CE 73 STARGAZER, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED ASTRAY and its various spin-offs, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED MSV, and SEED DESTINY MSV are the property of Bandai and Sunrise, not me. I make no money off this venture. This is purely for entertainment purposes, and no copyright infringement is intended.

This is a sequel to my retelling of Gundam SEED DESTINY, by the same name. That story was a sprawling tale that spanned two years, six separate pieces of fanfiction, and about a hundred characters. It was an alternate universe version that took some rather divergent paths from the original story of Gundam SEED DESTINY. This story is not exactly necessary reading for the main sequel, "TWILIGHT," but it does explain what a major group of characters are up to in between DESTINY and "TWILIGHT."

I will post a new chapter every Friday, or the soonest day thereafter should something arise on Friday to keep me from posting.

The year is Cosmic Era 76, and war is raging throughout the colonies of Mars. The exiled army of ZAFT and their allies, the Zodiac Martian Alliance, do battle against the Martian Liberation Army for control over Mars and its colonies. As the war rages, ZAFT continues to rebuild its military forces, preparing for the day they can return to the Earth Sphere and take revenge for their defeat.

In the meantime, however, as the soldiers of ZAFT nurse their grief and hatred, they look for hope in the person of their champion, the man who carries their standard into battle...

Phase 01 - Hero of Mars

November 15th, CE 76 - Event Horizon Colony, orbit of Mars

Death.

It was everywhere. The void of space was death itself, if you thought about it—and if you lived in that void, you had to come to the conclusion that death was around you at all times, forever waiting for that one foolish mistake, that one forgotten seal, that one accident that would suck you into its cold and unforgiving embrace and make you its own. At least on the Earth, you left a body, a grave, something that could be remembered. In space, it was nothing but stardust.

Today, the void had an army of assistants as it claimed its latest toll. It was a battle; it was war. Two fleets of warships, surrounded by death's ever-present void, were at war. Between them flitted an army of humanoid machines. One such fleet was arrayed before a wheel-shaped space colony, pitted and scarred—but it was clearly losing to the other.

And between them all, in the void, were bodies.

The man who watched them all could not count the bodies.

The man sat inside the dark confines of a mobile suit's cockpit. War had left its mark on him—underneath a blue and black, white-highlighted flight suit, the shapes of his arms and legs did not appear to match each other—as though the right arm and left leg were made of metal, and only the left arm and right leg made of flesh. But as one's eyes reached his face, there one could see what war had cost him, at least in physical form—a scar over his right cheek, and a tangle of scars and ruined flesh that culminated in a sinister red sensor that replaced a living left eye, a painful contrast to the gentle violet right eye. He wore the scars and the adornments of a soldier...but in that one remaining natural eye, one could see that he was no soldier.

Vice Marshal Kira Yamato, field commander of the forces of ZAFT, glanced around the cockpit of his loyal steed, his white and pure Strike Freedom Gundam. The screens showed only death around him as he approached the colony.

He thought back to his mission, his very presence here. ZAFT was here with the Zodiac Martian Alliance to destroy once and for all the forces of the Martian Liberation Army, as they clustered around this colony of Event Horizon. ZAFT and the ZMA had spent the better part of a week, and the lives of thirty ZAFT soldiers and almost five hundred ZMA personnel, trying to break the MLA's stranglehold on this colony. It was one of their major points of defense for the MLA's headquarters on the moon of Deimos. Take Event Horizon and the MLA's defense of their nerve center would have to crumble.

That was what his officers had told him; that was what she had told him. All he had to do was believe them.

A cluster of mobile suits rose before him, weapons drawn. Kira narrowed his mismatched eyes at them—worker mobile suits, Civilian Astrays and Raystas and Works GINNs. They were all Event Horizon could muster. He sent the Freedom's blue DRAGOON units streaking forward, and in an instant, the web of beam fire had torn apart the enemies before they could attack.

Kira recalled his DRAGOONs and tore through the wreckage of his foes, angling towards the colony. He glanced up as a transmission came in.

"Sir," the voice of a young Hispanic man said, "Commander Svante reports that the ZMA's ground invasion on Event Horizon has begun."

Kira nodded grimly. That meant he had to hurry. "Thank you, Juarez," he said, clicking the screen off. He glanced over his shoulder, at the three Force Impulse Gundam units in formation behind him, all emblazoned with the mark of FAITH on their left shoulders. They would destroy whatever he missed. "Attention all ZAFT and ZMA forces; this is Vice Marshal Kira Yamato. Begin securing the colony as quickly and bloodlessly as possible."

Behind the charging Gundams, the ZMA fleet and the supporting squadron of ZAFT warships moved forward, with the mobile suits plowing through the meager defenses of Event Horizon. Kira swarmed his DRAGOONs around an access hatch in the colony's hull, blasting it apart and wiping out two more beam gun-wielding Civilian Astrays in the process. The DRAGOONs returned as the four Gundams dove into the colony.

Kira looked around grimly at the inside of the colony wall. It was littered with bodies—civilians.

"Marshal, sir," a girl's voice spoke up—Kira keyed on the screen, glancing at the ZAFT Red flight suit-clad girl with brown hair and blue eyes, one of which sported a wicked crescent-shaped scar. "Are these civilians?"

Kira nodded soberly. "This colony was the destination for refugees of the Cosmo X23 attack, Kara," he explained. "I told Rear Admiral Graham to broadcast a warning. Either that warning was never heeded, or it was never broadcast."

"But sir," the third pilot protested—Kira glanced over at the black-haired, black-eyed ZAFT Red in the third Impulse unit, "they should have seen this coming for an MLA colony."

Kira narrowed his eye at the young man. "Don't judge civilians who just want to escape the war, Gary," he said crossly. "I was once one of them."

Gary fell silent as Kira deployed his DRAGOONs again, blasting open a secondary hatch. The Freedom and its DRAGOONs slipped through, coming back together in the gushing air as the three Impulse units followed, and the four Gundams continued through into the colony.

"Marshal," another voice cut in; Kira glanced over at the image of a ZAFT Black Shirt officer aboard one of the ZAFT ships. "Colony exterior secured—enemy forces in full retreat. I don't think the MLA believed they could defend this colony. They didn't have many troops here."

"No, they didn't," Kira agreed. "Keep the outside secure. There's still fighting going on inside."

"Aye sir." The screen went dark, and Kira returned his attention to his front.

"Sir, Brigadier General Raymond reports that his men have secured the Event Horizon headquarters," Juarez spoke up.

"Then we need to hurry—" Kira started, falling silent as a familiar sense of danger pricked at his consciousness. "Ambush!"

Kira slammed on the brakes, his three Force Impulse escorts doing likewise, as the colony superstructure came to life with a barrage of beam blasts. The Freedom deployed both of its beam shields, and Kira squinted through the blaze to find the passage alive with Event Horizon mobile suits.

"They have the passage blocked!" Kara exclaimed. "Sir—"

"I'll handle this," Kira cut her off.

The Freedom's DRAGOONs blazed to life, showering the Event Horizon mobile suits with beam shots and destroying several of them with its first volley. Kira leveled off both of his beam rifles, along with his railguns and Callidus cannon, and smashed another enemy squad out of the fight.

The three Impulse units lunged out from behind their gleaming commander, beam rifles leveled, and opened fire on the Event Horizon troops as they struggled to defend themselves.

"Kara, Gary, advance forward," Kira ordered. "Juarez, we'll cover them."

The Freedom lunged forward and lined up for a full burst, smashing a quintet of mobile suits into pieces. Juarez's Impulse squeezed off a trio of beam shots, as Kara and Gary finished off the remaining mobile suits, leaving only scrap metal in the space that had once been alive with beam fire.

"That looks like all of them," Gary reported. "It doesn't look like they could mount another ambush before we reach the inner hatch."

"Then let's get through it," Kira said. "The ZMA troops are already at the enemy headquarters, and who knows what they're up to."

Kara and Juarez slashed through the inner hatch with their beam sabers, and backed away as the hatch went spiraling away with a blast of air from inside the colony. The Freedom and its escorts lunged through the opening, taking off into the cylinder. Another squad of Event Horizon mobile suits came charging forward, beam guns blazing—a concentrated barrage from the Impulse units took them down, and Kira burst through their wreckage, angling for the coordinates of the enemy headquarters.

"Event Horizon's leaders have surrendered, sir," a ZAFT officer reported.

"Broadcast that message across the battlefield," Kira answered. "All ZAFT and ZMA units are to stand down, and we'll accept Event Horizon's surrender."

The Freedom came in low over the ground, alighting by a dilapidated building that had been torn apart by artillery shells. It was surrounded by ZMA armored vehicles and mobile suits, and the green and black uniforms of the ZMA were everywhere, as soldiers swarmed over the wreckage.

Kira glanced towards the tent where it seemed the unit's commander had made his post—and his eye flashed angrily as he saw a number of cowed men in suits being beaten by ZMA troops. He yanked off his helmet and opened the hatch, seizing his sidearm from the cockpit's survival case and emerging onto the hatch.

"Stop it!" he shouted—the soldiers looked up in surprise, and leapt to attention, saluting as Kira lowered himself to the ground, living eye flickering angrily. "You've been told to obey the Corsica Treaty's provisions when dealing with prisoners! What are you doing this for?"

"But, sir, nobody at Mars has signed the Corsica Treaty—" a major began to protest.

"That doesn't matter!" Kira snapped. "We're better than that! Now get out of here and go make yourselves useful! I'm not going to tolerate behavior like this!"

The ZMA soldiers scuttled away in defeat, as a squad of ZAFT soldiers emerged to help the men to their feet. Kira holstered his pistol, glancing over the battered bureaucrats.

"I presume you are the leaders of this colony," he began.

"W-We are," one of the men stammered.

"Then you can discuss the terms of your surrender with Marshal Sunogachi," Kira answered. "Until then, your surrender will be unconditional. An ambassador will be here shortly to work out the details."

"Very well, Vice Marshal," another man mumbled. "But the fighting—"

"Order your forces to cease fire and lay down their arms," Kira said. "That is my only demand."

The defeated bureaucrats nodded, and followed the ZAFT soldiers as they were led away. A flak-jacketed ZAFT Black Shirt appeared next, greeting Kira with a salute.

"There are still a few pockets of resistance, sir, but we've got the colony interior mostly secure," the officer said. "The surrender broadcast has just been issued, but it will probably take a few minutes for most units to receive it and cease fire."

"I understand," Kira said, "but the less blood we shed here needlessly, the better. Get the Event Horizon leaders out of here, and make sure they're guarded by ZAFT troops." He scowled after the ZMA soldiers. "I'm going to have to speak with President Schroeder about this."

"But sir, the ZMA is technically a sovereign entity," the officer protested. "I'm not sure you can enforce laws on them."

"There are only three powers at Mars that can contest each other," Kira answered, "and the ZMA is only able to take on the MLA with our help. Schroeder will have to listen." He glanced back at the Strike Freedom. "My work here is done. I'll leave the occupation to Commander Svante."

"Yes sir," the officer answered with a salute.

Kira suppressed a sigh and headed back towards his Gundam.

ZAFT Minerva-class battleship Fortuna, Event Horizon Colony, orbit of Mars

Sitting back and adjusting the cap of his ZAFT White Shirt uniform, Captain Lyle Markus of the Fortuna watched impassively as his great winged ship slowly pulled away from Event Horizon, its complement of Gundams safely onboard with its modest squad of GOUF Ignited units. The thin-faced, blond-haired man cast one last disdainful glance towards the nearby ZMA fleet—a pathetic collection of blue-painted Marseille III-class freighters, jury-rigged for armaments and mobile suit support facilities. And since the ZMA was made up mostly of Naturals, they were clearly inferior soldiers. But such was war.

The bridge doors slid open with a hiss, and Lyle joined the bridge crew in rising to salute the dark-uniformed Vice Marshal Kira Yamato. Kira adjusted the blood-red cuffs and mantle of his black uniform, returning the salutes with the black-gloved mechanical right hand, and drifted down next to Lyle's chair.

"I hope the casualty reports aren't too high," Kira said. "Can we contact Messiah?"

"Transmission is coming through now," the comm officer answered. Kira looked up at the main screen.

He struggled to hold in check the urge to smile like a schoolboy at the lovely face of Marshal Valentine Sunogachi, the supreme commander of ZAFT. Once again she was clad in a more elaborately-decorated version of his own black and blood-red ZAFT uniform—although Valentine had seen fit to add a cape to the back, for reasons that still eluded Kira. It was like she wanted to look evil—and Kira knew that to be an inaccurate portrayal. Valentine was powerful and tough, but certainly not evil.

"Event Horizon has fallen, Marshal Sunogachi," Kira said with a salute, settling for icy military formality. He caught the glimmer in his beloved's eyes. "The soldiers were successful; now the politicians can take over."

"Impressive as always, Kira," Valentine answered, allowing herself only a small smile. "Soon we'll be able to finish off the MLA and get back to work."

Kira plucked up his courage. "On that note, ma'am," he said, hoping he could get back to Messiah soon and back into a setting where he didn't have to call her "ma'am," "I am requesting permission to meet with President Schroeder over the actions of his troops. I don't think it's helping, and there's nowhere better to go than straight to the top."

Valentine nodded. "Assent is given, then," she said. "I've already dispatched an ambassador to Event Horizon to handle the surrender more fully. Excellent work, Kira." She smiled again, this time with an almost undetectable hint of the love and lust that Kira knew so well. "Hopefully this war will be over soon, yes?"

"We'll do our best," Kira answered, feeling flustered.

"I'd expect nothing less," Valentine said. "And send my regards to President Schroeder. Messiah, out."

The screen went dark. Kira glanced down at Lyle; the captain merely nodded.

"Helm, set course for the Olympus Mons colony." He glanced back up at Kira. "Should we request an escort, sir?"

"It won't be necessary," Kira answered. "Not too many units would attack us on the way to the ZMA capital colony." He paused. "Except for them." He shook his head and turned towards the bridge doors. "I'll be in my quarters. Inform me if anything comes up."

Martian Liberation Army Headquarters, Deimos

The petty officer in the dark brown uniform was almost trembling as he watched the reptilian man before him in the black suit, with a red and white sash down the front, read the report. The man turned his eyes up towards the officer.

"Generalissimo Vargas," the officer began, "the captain of the Syrtis Major reported that the MLA task force at Event Horizon was able to pull out with minimal casualties."

Emmanuel Vargas narrowed his beady black eyes at the report. Event Horizon had fallen, with its leaders surrendering unconditionally to the might of ZAFT and the Zodiac Martian Alliance. They had betrayed him—the MLA had promised Event Horizon investment and trading privileges after the war in return for their support, but all it had taken to break that illustrious alliance was the flashing yellow eyes of the Strike Freedom Gundam. Traitors.

Well, they would just have to die with the rest.

"At least our own forces were able to escape," he said. "Send word to Commodore Shaw that I want his squadron back here at once. ZAFT is beginning its final thrust, and we'll certainly want to parry it."

"Yes sir," the officer said, scuttling away with a salute. Vargas sat back, brooding, and brought up another file on the screen before him.

"The next arms shipment will be arriving soon," he said quietly. "What of the Earth Sphere's detritus will you be giving me this time, Lord Djibril...?"

He sat back and glanced out his office window. The huge shape of a satellite was slowly coming together outside. A massive, dish-shaped center with three arms stretching off, lined with solar panels—and three pentagonal panels around the rest of the sides.

"The Beelzebub Array," he told himself, "will burn away all traitors."

It was all just noise to nineteen-year-old Lieutenant Agnes Brahe as he stood in the corridor overlooking the ship dock, arms crossed over his brown Martian Liberation Alliance uniform. He hated these clothes, and only wore them when dealing with the MLA's leader, Emmanuel Vargas. This uniform was a sort of oath to that man, to serve him and his interests—and Agnes found few things more distasteful than the thought that he was a servant of Emmanuel Vargas. He was a servant of Mars and the Austral Colony, first and foremost, and his sword was dedicated to vanquishing the specter of ZAFT for the good of the people of Mars—not for the good of a politician of Mars.

After all, Emmanuel Vargas was the sort of man who coldly calculated which colonies were worth saving and which were not. What kind of man worth fighting for did that?

Agnes glanced to the side, finding his dark-skinned, blond-haired friend approaching. Lieutenant Junior Grade Nahe Hershell leaned tiredly against the railing, glancing out over the ships in the dock—and in particular the small, sleek, crimson-painted Acidalium.

"I suppose you heard the news about Event Horizon," Nahe said. "Shame. Commodore Shaw pulled out rather than fight to defend the colony, so Event Horizon's security force got totally butchered."

"I heard," Agnes said quietly. "I can't believe that Shaw pulled out. What a coward."

"Eh, he had five ships, Event Horizon had eight. They were up against a twenty-ship ZMA fleet and a seven-ship ZAFT squadron. Had he fought them, he would have been eaten alive."

Agnes snorted indifferently. "What kind of soldier refuses to fight because he's afraid to die?" He shook his head. "Vargas should have sent more troops to Event Horizon."

"I guess," Nahe said with a shrug. "But I don't know if it would have made a difference."

"We should be using our power to save every colony from ZAFT," Agnes answered, "not just the influential ones."

"It's not very ethical," said Nahe, "but it's smart politics. And war is just politics with guns and stuff."

"Not this war. This war is about saving the people of Mars from the oppression of ZAFT." He glanced over at Nahe. "Vargas can play all the politics he wants, but that's what I'm fighting for."

Nahe smiled bitterly. "I know." He glanced back at the Acidalium. "I guess it's the war we have to thank for the Delta Astray, though. We probably never would have gotten the funding we needed to finish work on the Voiture Lumiere without it."

Agnes ground his teeth at the thought that he owed anything to Emmanuel Vargas. The Delta Astray Gundam was his power, his sword, the Gundam with which he could protect his people. To think that its key technology was made possible by that snake oil salesman of a leader, Vargas...

"We could have finished it," he said angrily. He glanced up at the Beelzebub Array, in orbit of Deimos. "Vargas..."

Martian Liberation Army Izumo-class battleship Elysium, orbit of Mars

The clipboard fluttered across the bridge, landing in the hands of a crewman. By the captain's chair, an airy sigh issued forth from a man whose face lay behind a silver mask with three circular red eyes, surrounded by a golden mane of hair resting over the brown uniform of the Martian Liberation Army.

In the captain's chair, the grizzled, dark-skinned commander glanced up at the masked man. "Colonel Suzuki," he said, "should we return to Deimos?"

Colonel Omega Suzuki smiled a sinister smile. "Not yet, Howard," he answered. "Event Horizon's fall is not yet the end. If ZAFT wants to truly cripple the MLA, they would have to attack our surface colonies and factories."

"Then what will our course of action be?" Howard asked.

Omega chuckled. "Generalissimo Vargas has tasked me with taking down the Fortuna," he said. "A daunting task, to be sure."

"Intel has them setting course for the planet," Howard pointed out. "Looks like they're heading for Olympus Mons."

"I'm sure Vargas will be sending the Acidalium to intercept," Omega replied. "Take us in behind them, then. We'll let the Defender of Mars strike the first blow."

ZAFT Minerva-class battleship Fortuna, orbit of Mars

"If we're just going to Olympus Mons so Marshal Yamato can meet with Schroeder," sighed Kara Guinness as she sprawled out on a couch in the Fortuna's crew lounge, "then there's nothing for us to do."

On the other side of the couch, Juarez Recardo looked up from his cup of coffee. "We'll probably have to fight someone along the way," he warned. "We would be cutting it close to the Arm of God orbital elevator, and that thing's been firmly in MLA hands for months."

Across the table, Gary Talon sniffed indifferently, crossing his arms. "I don't see why the Marshal himself needs to do this," he said. "They don't run out of ambassadors at Messiah to send off to conquered colonies. Why couldn't one of them do it?"

"Why not the Marshal?" Kara answered with a shrug. "It's more impressive if you've got him telling you to do something than if you have some little old diplomat."

"A man with the Marshal's position has to engage in as much politics as combat," Juarez added. "And since we are his adjutants, we must go where he goes."

"Besides, it's an honor to be traveling with the Marshal," Kara added—Juarez and Gary both shifted uncomfortably at the darkening look in her eyes. "When we go back to the Earth Sphere, he's the man who will make everything right. And if I can fight by his side, that's an honor to me." She scowled. "Lord Djibril and his giant doomsday cannons can't take that away from me."

Juarez sighed quietly. "You're from Mars, Gary," he said, "so I'm not sure if you'd understand."

"That's what everyone says," Gary snorted dismissively, running a hand through his long black hair in contempt. "Just because I'm a Martian doesn't mean I'm not a Coordinator."

"Have you ever watched your homeland get blown out of the sky by a giant laser?" Kara asked spitefully. "Unless you have, don't talk like you know how we feel." She heaved a sigh. "That's why we'd all follow Marshal Yamato through the gates of hell."

Juarez sighed as well, glancing down at his coffee. "Some might say we already have."

Kira Yamato had no idea how the girl in front of him could simultaneously have been awarded ZAFT Red honors and be serving the unglamorous role of his military adjutant. And "military adjutant" was putting it kindly, as well—in function, her job was more that of a secretary.

Idly, Kira wondered if this was Valentine's idea.

Seventeen-year-old Kayla Segar nervously brushed her long, wavy chestnut hair from her face, fidgeting with the cuffs of her ZAFT Red's uniform. It was rather unusual to see a ZAFT Red in the rather restrictive knee-length skirt—but Kira brushed it all off. She was a diligent and productive worker, and that was all that should have mattered.

Kira sat back in his desk in the master office of the Fortuna, glancing tiredly at the door that led to his quarters. A long day required food and sleep, but before that, he supposed, there was work to be done.

"I haven't met with President Schroeder in months," Kira said, glancing back at Kayla. "I hope he's not as vain and obnoxious as he was last time."

"I'm sure you'll be able to handle him, sir," Kayla said with a nervous smile. "No one in the Martian Sphere can match you for influence and fame."

"You speak as someone who has never met President Wilhelm Schroeder of the Zodiac Martian Alliance," Kira said, arching the eyebrow over his good eye and smiling himself. "I suppose you'll understand when we reach Olympus Mons. Just don't give in to the temptation to smack the taste out of his mouth and you'll be fine."

"Um, yes sir," Kayla stammered. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"I don't think so," Kira said, ignoring the feeling of disappointment his nascent Newtype senses picked up from her as he glanced down at the computer screen before him. "The agenda looks fine. I don't have much I want to discuss with him anyway." He shook his head. "It's difficult to have such fitful allies."

"But if anyone can make Schroeder start telling his troops to behave more professionally, it would be you, sir," Kayla insisted.

Kira smiled thinly. "I'm a soldier," he said, "not a diplomat."

"But sir," Kayla said, "people all over the Martian Sphere see you as a hero. And President Schroeder can't compare with that."

Those words dug into Kira's brain for a moment, before he crushed them. "Just because people see me as a hero doesn't mean I am one," he said cautiously.

Kayla nodded in defeat for a moment. "I think you're being too modest, sir," she protested.

Kira sat back. "Better to be too modest than too arrogant," he said. "I think our work for tonight is done, Kayla. You're dismissed. I'll be having you accompany me when I meet with Schroeder tomorrow, though."

Kayla bowed her head for a moment and saluted. "Yes sir." She moved towards the door to leave.

"Kayla?" Kira added. She looked over her shoulder. "Turn off the lights on your way out, please."

"...yes sir," Kayla answered. Kira closed his eye, sitting back as the room went dark and the door shut.

Heliopolis Technical College student. Earth Alliance Forces Ensign. Freedom Gundam pilot. ZAFT Red. FAITH member. Vice Marshal of ZAFT. How had his life gone from that of an awkward teenager at school to the second-in-command of an army in exile? Kayla's words rang in his ears—a hero. Was that what he was? How could he call himself a hero, knowing all that he had done, and all he had failed to do? And for so long, he had fought—was this the result of all that fighting? Floating in space and fighting a pointless war, surrounded by bitter and hopeless soldiers consumed by their hatred, waiting and living only for the revenge that would come with their eventual return to the Earth Sphere? Was that all there now was to his life?

He paused, to consider who was waiting for him in the Earth Sphere. Revenge...it was his calling as well.

Shinn Asuka...and Athrun Zala, he thought, feeling the familiar hatred bubbling up within him again. I wonder what you're doing right now.

He sat back, staring at the ceiling for a moment.

One day I'll find out.

To be continued...