Chapter 13: Shadows of the Looming Past

Disclaimer: I DO NOT own gundam wing or SEED. But the Original Character that shows up is mine.

A gentle breeze blew through the open area on which Heero stood, staring at this strange person in front of him. The blades of grass moved, swaying left and right with the blow of the wind. Heero's bangs mirrored the grasses' movement. Although the gentle breeze was welcoming, Heero could not forget that he was not there for a break or vacation. The person that stood in front of him matched Duo's description of the "freak of nature" he had run into earlier the day before. Heero kept his pistol dead-locked on the man's head. Both men were silent as if they were mute.

As Heero stared at this man he couldn't help but wonder what this man had to do with their being here, and what he had planned for them—for him. Heero found it odd. He felt no sense of danger or hostility toward or from this man. He felt a calming sensation that was soothingly breath-taking. Heero had felt a calmness overcome him like one he had never felt before. All his concerns about what was truly going on disappeared for that one moment. It was like being in the mere presence of this strange person gave him a sense of hope. Heero didn't know what kind of hope this feeling was meant for. In the moment of his weakness, Heero's eyes glanced down slightly as he thought back to what he saw on the screen. He tightened his left fist trying his best to comprehend the estrange situation he was faced with. Heero's steady aim slowly relaxed while he was lost in thought.

"He…he can't be alive. There's no evidence of anyone that survived…"

The man stood there looking at Heero, staring at him with a content nonchalant stare. He cleared his throat and moved his hands into the pockets of his trench coat. The man's slight movement interrupted Heero's thought as he repositioned his rifle at the man's head.

"Don't move," Heero said coldly.

The man sighed and briefly scoffed. "Look at you. You're a shell of your former self. Back then you would have never considered aligning yourself to a faction for this long. Hell, looks like you're even growing weaker as a soldier now that the seed of affection has been planted. Maybe you aren't the right one for this after all." He commented.

Heero looked at him, trying to hide his curiosity. "Right one?" he thought quietly.

The man looked around, moving his fingers around in his pocket, tapping his leg out of boredom. He licked his lips and exhaled.

"That image scared you didn't it? It brought back something you haven't felt since you were a small child. But, even as a kid you weren't one to be scared of too much. You learned how to shoot and set explosives proficiently at such a young age. Trained by Odin Lowe, a man who you'd consider to be the closest thing you had to a father. After the man's death you went on your own, but then you ran into Doctor J. The doctor took you in and raised you harshly no doubt. Had a hand in what makes you…you. But, Heero, there was another, wasn't there?"

Heero's eyes dilated slightly at the sound of the man recalling so much about his past. The small lapse of surprise ended as Heero regained his calm cold demeanor, staring at the man with hostile eyes.

"You know so much about me, yet I know nothing about you. Who are you? And why have you sent us here?"

Heero was never truly accustomed to asking so many kinds of questions but the situation wasn't in his favor, despite how things seemed. He saw that the man showed no fear at all to the fact that he was at gunpoint and he seemed to be in control of the situation, even with Heero holding the gun. Heero felt as if he was reliving a meeting with Treize. He thought back to his past, remembering back to the time he met Treize face to face. Back then he was put in a similar situation. Even though he had a gun pointed at Treize, the man showed no fear whatsoever.

The man lightly scoffed. "You're right. I should give you some information. After all you got the first file to open." The man took a small break, pausing briefly. "I guess I should give you my name, but to be honest I can't remember my true name. It's been so God dang long. So if you're going to call me something, call me…Cassius. Yea…that'll do."

Heero remained vigilant but calmed as the man spoke, intrigued as to what answers "Cassius" may have held. Heero didn't utter a word to the fact that Cassius had given him a name to call him by. He was the least bit interested in that.

"What's your goal for having us here, Cassius?"

Cassius remained calm just as much as Heero.

"Now my goals are…you don't need to know about my goals yet. They're very…long termed. Right now my goal for you is to help you out. Giving what you need and let you dictate the rest. Think about it Heero. Had I not shown you the file, do you really think you and the preventers would notice if that Doctor built a dimensional device? By the time you'd figure it out on your own, you would have been too late and you'd have little to no information on what the fuck happened. You should, in a way, be thanking me for giving you that ultimatum. Think of the alternative. What if I hadn't intervened and given you this dire information."

Heero remained quiet but his eyes displayed his mind at work, thinking up all of the worst case scenarios had he and the Preventers not known about this.

"If this was that…doctor's intent, then we would have…"

Heero eye's widened, figuring out the doctor's intentions.

Cassius smiled noticing Heero's stare. "That's what I like about you Heero, you don't look at one possibility; you look at them all. Not only that, you were able to connect the two. Now you see why I did what I did. Now that you got part of what you needed, how about you lower that gun. You can trust me…" He said.

With the doctor's possible motive in his mind his thoughts rested slightly eased by some questions that were answered via his own realizations. He narrowed his eyes at Cassius, looking at him as another batch of questions followed.

"Why should I trust you? You were willing to kill innocent people and endanger their lives. And why do you have another Wing Zero? The stunt you pulled could have resulted in increasing more casualties! " Heero yelled narrowing his eyes angrily.

Cassius chuckled lightly at Heero's words. "You mean Astray's flight over ORB? You shouldn't be pointing the gun at me; I wasn't in the cockpit at the time, remember? If you want to blame anyone blame Astray. And I don't think that it'd take kindly to you comparing it to your suit. That's two completely different leagues. So I suggest you do what you do best and keep your opinions to yourself like you do ninety percent of the time." Cassius cautioned.

Heero kept note on how Cassius spoke about the black Wing Zero and how he talked about it like it was a sentient being. Heero didn't have much time to ponder over if this other Wing Zero was a sentient being or not as a strange instinct took over and he then continued with other questions that irritated his mind. "Why do things the way you did? If you wanted the Preventers to deal with this issue why didn't you give them the information sooner so they could act accordingly to the situation?" Heero questioned.

"You've got it wrong Heero. It's you that interest me. A heart that can sympathize and understand others, that's what interests me. I wonder…" Cassius pulled out a small locket attached to a silver necklace out from under his shirt, touching the front softly with his thumb. He let go of the small locket, looking at Heero, staring into the young man's eyes. "I wonder Heero, if you can succeed where I have failed."

"Hm?" Heero was surprised by Cassius' actions. "What do you mean?" he questioned.

Cassius put his hand into his pants pocket pulling out three data discs. He fanned them out, holding them in his hand showing them to Heero. "ZERO should be able to tell you where your path in this existence leads to. There is so much more to the system than you know, Heero. Depending on how you interpret these two questions, you will either have succeeded me, or join me."

Cassius looked at the discs and then looked up at Heero. "What is the limit to humanity's adaptability? What is the true answer to end all conflicts?"

Heero listened intently. He thought for a moment considering Cassius words and what he meant by them. "What does he know…?" He thought irritatingly. Heero felt frustrated and calm at the same time, it was a strange feeling. He felt safe around Cassius but at the same time he felt he should be killing this man, unsure of what incomparable dangers his secrets held.

"Once you unlock more and more details about what's hidden in that drive, these discs will make more sense to you. I hope that you'll have a sense to use it when the time comes. You don't need me to answer your questions. Let your emotions lead you to the path that's right for you in this world. Your time has just begun."

Cassius threw the small discs toward Heero. The three discs twirled as the landed on the grass sliding to his feet. Heero kept his eyes on Cassius as the man left. He didn't shoot. Heero watched as he left. He didn't question why he didn't shoot or why Cassius acted so kind and helpful to him, like an ally. Seeing Cassius disappear into the shadows of the thick brush, Heero lowered his gun and looked down at the three discs. Picking them up he noticed something familiar, yet unusually different about the discs.

"Hmm…"

Heero stood silently in the coming night as he thought to himself, wondering what he would do next. He thought about what Cassius said. Though it was true that he had changed much in a total of three years since Operation Meteor, he didn't consider himself a great liability, but it was the way Cassius spoke of how he had a "seed of affection".

He sighed calmly, "Relena…"

As Heero had a brief moment to think about Relena, a thought crept up in his mind as his thoughts shifted from Relena to Cagalli.

Standing there alone he closed his eyes and thought of his past.

*flashback*

A young brown haired boy walked along with an old man heading down the hallway. The young boy looked around seeing many other adults passing the duo as they made their way to their own destination. The young boy glanced up at the old man looking at him curiously. He let out a light sigh and looked ahead keeping things to himself. Nearing their destination the two came to a halt when the old man was stopped by one of his colleagues.

The college was a picture of a man in perfect health. He had gelled back blonde hair that left only a few strands left lightly covering his forehead. He wore thin frail glasses that when coupled with his firm chin and facial features, gave him a know-it-all look. He had a light beard that covered most of his chin and lower face. The colleague smiled at the old man as they began talking to one another.

The young boy watched listening to their conversation that they tried to keep private by keeping close to one another.

"The targeted alteration was a success! We should hurry up and use it on the boy now!" the colleague yelled, trying to keep his voice to a whisper as best as he could.

The old man moved his glasses, glancing down at the boy briefly. "No. The first alteration should be more than enough." He argued.

The colleague was furious at the old man's decision. "If we added this then he would be—!"

"That's enough Yagami! I've seen the research and it is too risky. I told you, what I've done to the boy is enough."

Yagami gritted his teeth together as he watched the old man and the young boy take their leave. "Have it your way, Jay. If you can't see that this is the way toward peace, I'll make you see it!" Yagami stormed off heading in the opposite direction. The young boy took a moment to glance back at Yagami, wondering what it was the two men talked about. The old man looked down at the young boy smiling.

"You don't need to be concerned about what happened any more young man, focus on the task at hand."

The young boy sighed and did just as he was told, leaving behind the small incident to be forgotten and buried within his mind.

Later that night the boy slept in a small bed trying to get as much sleep as he could. He lied on his side with one hand under the pillow. The boy awoke from the sound of commotion outside his room. He woke up and pulled a pistol from under his pillow holding it steady, ready to fire.

Aiming the pistol at the door as it opened, the boy was surprised to see the one of the adults rushing in.

"Let's go!" he yelled.

Behind the adult was a massive amount of smoke. Seeing the area in a blaze the boy complied and left with the old man. The duo rushed out of the area along with many others. The boy glanced around seeing various rooms on fire. He passed a particular room seeing Yagami trapped in the room, his movement hindered by the surrounding destruction and fire. After a moment of running through various corridors the boy escaped turning around looking at the facility he had called home for months on end burn in a great inferno.

The young boy watched as the fire engulfed the large facility, staring at it blankly.

*end flashback*

Heero opened his eyes looking down at the three discs in hand. He sighed and put the discs in his rear right pocket. Putting his gun back, he headed out of the area hoping to get back before nightfall.

While Heero met Cassius, Kira wondered where he went. Giving into his curiosity, Kira approached the door to the private hangar that held the two suits. Before he could even try to get in, the doors opened. Exiting the hangar was Duo, flared and angered like he had never seen him before.

"Man, the guy goes running offright after I talked to him about all of that 'we are partners' thing. Sheesh…huh?"

Duo looked up to see Kira standing there looking at him with the most awkward stare. Duo put away his anger and donned his ever so "happy no worry" smile. "Hey there, kid. What's up?"

Kira looked at him confusingly. He was sure if Heero had left then his friend would have known, but here Duo stood seemingly angered by Heero's leave. The young teen looked at Duo speaking softly. "Uh yea…where's Heero gone to? I saw him leave a while ago. You know where he went?"

Duo sighed and looked down angrily. He shook his head looking at Kira. "Heero's…has always been like that. As long as I've known the guy…" Duo looked over to the setting sun as it slowly disappeared. Soon it would give way to a lightly blue-purple hue before the night sky took the stage. Duo chuckled and put his hand on Kira's shoulder. "Don't worry about it too much, Kira…" Duo paused taking moment to think about what he said. "He'll come back…eh…hopefully," Duo said doubtfully.

"I see…" Kira sighed. He didn't have time waste and wait for Heero to return. Once he was done here then he would be done with ORB. Once he was done with ORB then he would be done being a volunteer of the Earth Alliance Military and all the things he did would be in the past. "I just want it all to end…" he thought.

Duo looked at Kira curiously. He knew Kira had gone through a lot and Duo knew from experience that killing was someone in general was tough to swallow not to mention killing someone you cared about or knew on a deep level. "Something on your mind, Kira?" Duo asked, concerned for the youth.

Kira looked up seeing Duo staring at him. He sighed and gave a light smile, shaking his head. "No, it's nothing." Kira appreciated Duo's concern. Unlike Heero who seemed so hardened by battles, Duo seemed more down to earth, and while he was ruthless on the battlefield, it seemed that to him, Duo was someone he could trust in some sense. Kira sighed and started walking away, but stopped glancing back at Duo. "Hey when you see him, could you tell him that the Operating System's ready for full testing?"

Duo's eyes lit up. "Why didn't you tell me it was ready? Sounds like something worth checking out if you guy's finished in what, two days?" Duo said smiling and rubbing his nose slightly with his right index finger.

"So I take it that everything's set?" Erica questioned surprising the two.

Kira turned around looking at her for a moment and then sadly shook his head. "Not exactly, Heero left a while ago and I don't have any idea where he went."

Erica lightly crossed her arms together, thinking for a moment, considering what to do without Heero present in the demonstration. She didn't know what Heero did with the OS in the beginning since he was in the private hangar for the majority of the time, but she knew she and the others at the demonstration needed him to explain some aspects of what he did to the OS so that they could understand the technological concepts of the system from Heero's perspective, given that his suit had to run on other type of OS that made it equal or greater to the current OS on the Strike. Before she could even say a word, Erica looked up noticing a familiar face returning to the facility. "Hmm…" she said with a smile.

Duo glanced over to see Heero walking towards them casually, like nothing had happened. He gritted his teeth together and rushed at him. Pulling at Heero's shirt, Duo raised his fist ready to hit him. Erica and Kira looked at Duo surprised by his actions. The workers around them paused wondering if a fight between the two would soon occur.

It was clear to Erica now that Duo had no idea that Heero had left. "Hey come on Duo, why don't you calm down and let Heero explain himself. I'm sure he had a good reason for leaving." Erica pleaded trying to resolve the situation before it became something more hectic.

Duo looked over at Erica for a brief moment and then glanced back at Heero. He saw something in Heero's eyes that he had not seen for a very long time. He sighed and let go of Heero, lowering his fist. "I wouldn't even get anything out of punching this guy…" he said pointing a thumb at Heero, recalling the incident the time he got a free shot at Heero's face.

Heero remained silent as ever. His encounter with Cassius caused the soldier to have even more doubt. He wondered if being open to everyone had caused him to become weaker compared to when he was a lone wolf. The thought occupied his mind for few seconds though as he closed his eyes focusing on what he did best when it came to living his life: Live by his emotions. Though the thought remained in the back of his mind, Heero focused on living his own life and tried his best not to let what Cassius said bother him too much.

Heero looked at the three, wondering what was going on. He glanced at Kira seeing thehim holding his laptop and Erica standing there. Within fifteen seconds he figured out what they possibly wanted from being at the Private Hangar, together.

"The Operating System is completed?" he questioned.

Kira's eyes looked up at him. Kira nodded confirming Heero's question.

"Understood," Heero said. He started walking away from the three heading to the demonstration area that Erica had shown them before.

Kira watched him leave and then soon followed.

Duo smiled and sighed quickly, letting out all his anger and frustration out. "This should be good, mind if I tag along?" he asked Erica.

Erica smiled at Duo, "Sure,"

The two left the area following Heero and Kira.

Inside the demonstration area, one suit stood ready and prepared to test out this new system. Kira sat at one of the many computers on one side of the room while Heero remained on the other at the opposite end of the room. Kira looked over a Heero wondering who would upload the operating system. Heero gave a simple nod and that was more than enough for Kira to continue on and update the suit. With their work essentially done, Heero and Kira watched, waiting on Erica's command so the pilot could start her drills.

Erica pushed a small button on the small Bluetooth communicator in her ear before speaking. "Alright, let's give this system a good test run."

With that, the pilot began moving her suit, following the daily drills. The pilot began moving the suit according to what she had done before, but found that her inputs were doing nothing to help the suits movement.

One of the other pilots looked back at Heero and Kira. "Hey what gives? I thought you were going to make it easier for us to move these things, not harder!"

Erica remained calm but she'd be lying if she didn't admit that she was concerned something and gone awry. She looked at Heero for some kind of explanation.

Heero noticed the suit was sluggish and looked down at his screen seeing the girl moving the controls in a manner that he had eliminated, to simplify the controls. He sent the pilot a list of instructions, telling her some basics on how the systems control had changed. "I used our mobile suit's operating system as a template. I simplified the controls to pre-programmed movements but to a more simplified level, combining movements to get the same results you'd get by inputting multiple commands compared to the old system." Heero stopped, looking up at the suit, waiting for the pilot to follow the instructions he sent.

Duo smiled glancing back at Heero momentarily. He was surprised that Heero chose to use their systems as the template, but he couldn't blame him. He saw the results from the previous demonstration. Though their system was not one to be taken lightly to fully manipulate to such a skilled degree, compared to so many inputs the pilots must have put in before just for a simple movement made Duo smile, glad that things back home weren't this complicated. "They need the help…" he chuckled slightly and returned his gaze upon the suit.

The instructions were simple enough for her to follow. She was mildly surprised that the controls were simplified to such a level. "Really?" she questioned having a difficult time believing that the controls were that stupidly simple. Heero didn't bother answering her, leaving her frustrated for a slight moment. She sighed and looked at the controls. "Fine…!"

She followed the instructions and pulled the control handles back and forth pushing one up while pulling the other back, then alternating. As she did this she pushed down on one of the multiple buttons on the control handle. Everyone watched as the suit threw a couple punches. The pilot stepped on the foot pedals in a simple sequence. The suit bent its legs and rushed toward the large viewing window before jumping up and landing back a few lengths away.

Nearly everyone was astounded by the sheer difference in ease of movement and how the machines movement flowed from one to the next.

The other girls stood in awe behind the viewing glass.

"Wow…" one of them said.

"That's just awesome!" the other added

Erica looked at Heero smiling. "I'm amazed that you put so many controls into simplified inputs."

Heero didn't reply to her comment, staring at the screen blankly. "Hmm…"

Kira reviewed the Operating system's inner workings on his screen as he spoke. "With the principle of simplifying things with the template Heero designed, I increased the synapse fusing by over sixty percent. I had a bit of difficulty understanding the entire design that Heero gave me, but I was able redesign the molecular structure of the ion pumps to make it more compatible to the reflexes of the average natural."

Erica looked at Kira surprised that the boy had done this much even with the slight difficulty he admitted to having. "I'm just surprised you were able to do that much in just a matter of days! Wow, you're really good!"

Mu stood to Kira's rightb looking at the static suit. He glanced back at Erica. "Would I be able to get the same performance if I tried piloting it?"

Erica crossed her arms smiling at Mu. "Yes, that is correct, Commander. Would you like to give it a try?"

Kira sighed thinking about how this system worked. He couldn't admit it to everyone there, but thanks to Heero's involvement along with his own, they managed to create a system that was slightly superior to his own operating system that was in the Strike. "Now that this thing's complete…more and more people are going to fight and more people will die…" He couldn't help but feel responsible as he thought about his hand in creating this monstrosity.

Mu noticed Kira's troubled looked. "Huh?"

With the demonstration completed everyone took their leave.

Kira parted ways with Erica. "Well, I'm going to make my way back to the Strike now." He said calmly.

"Okay, I'll see you later." She said leaving with the girls. The girls yawned and stretched their arms, talking about how hectic their day was as they left Erica to head back home.

Duo headed to the private hangar, following Heero but felt a hand on his shoulder stopping him. He looked back to see Erica smiling at him. Duo smiled in return looking at her. "What's up?" he asked.

She gave a light hearted smile and chuckled. "I heard that you were looking for junk parts a couple days ago."

Duo smile turned into a nervous grin. "Yeah. It's not that I don't appreciate you helping us out by letting us use your things, it's just…" he paused trying to find a nice way to put things.

Erica waved her hand laughing lightly. "You don't have to explain yourself. You know, I have a good friend that has someone that's into junk parts. I'll give her a call to send him over tomorrow. Maybe he can give you a hand at finding some parts you want. I think you two might just hit it off, you guys seem so much alike from what my friend has told me of this man." Erica started walking away heading off to do other business.

Duo stood there thinking to himself about the thought of meeting another junk dealer. "This place might not be too bad after all if it's got junkies." Duo chuckled lightly but then froze. His eyes stared down, widened at his realization. "I…I just signed my own death warrant." He groaned. "He's going to kill me if this guy tries and see what Wing Zero's like."

Duo sighed heavily as he made his way back to the private hangar.

As Kira walked back toward the Strike, Mu called out his name, stopping him momentarily.

"Uh what is it sir?"

"You got this look on your face like something's bothering you."

"I don't have a look sir." Kira said moving ahead going toward the Strike.

Mu followed, seeing Kira's deflection about what bothered him. "Oh yes you do. And I heard you passed up the chance to see your parents. Why's that?"

Kira kept on walking, ignoring the Lieutenant Commander.

"Kira?" Mu questioned, trying to get the boy's attention

"If I did meet them…" Kira started. "All they'd see is a soldier…and a murderer."

Mu watched intently as they arrived at the foot of the mobile suit. Kira looked over seeing Murdoch smiling at him.

"Hey kid, I went ahead and boosted the output of the thrusters by eighteen percent. Could you check the momentum control parameters for me?"

"Sure," Kira said happily as if the small conversation he had with Mu didn't happen. Kira climbed up on the Strike and got into the cockpit. He turned the system on as each screen in the cockpit lit up. The main screen up front displayed the Strike's torso.

Kira pulled the keyboard over and began typing rapidly. The screen changed displaying a blue screen with the words 'Mobile Suit Operating System' on the top with the OMNI insignia at the center. Kira began working as if he had never taken a break. He typed quickly as his eyes scanned over the screen adjusting what needed to be adjusted to get his Strike to the most proficient level as possible.

Mu stood near the open cockpit resting his hand on the hinge as he looked down at Kira. "You may be a soldier but you're still the same Kira. And you may have killed people but that a part of war. It's—"

"What we have to do as soldiers. I know…" Kira interrupted.

Mu sighed trying to stay calm and understanding of the boy's feelings. "Yea…but I'm sure they'd still want to see you."

Kira multitasked, something he was more than talented enough at. He continued on type while he spoke. "This is all I do. Fight in mobile suits…then help with the maintenance and repairs. Day in and day out. Once we leave Orb we'll face Zaft again..." Kira's words trailed off as he thought of Athrun.

Mu looked at Kira curiously wondering what was on his mind when he mentioned Zaft.

Kira stopped typing, thinking about what would happen with only two more suits to tend with. "When all of this is over…" He sighed quietly trying to keep himself calm and his emotions in check in front of the Commander.

"Hey where's that green bird of yours…? You know the one that's always flying around on the ship?" Mu asked. He had always seen Kira with the toy pet frequently. He found it odd that he wouldn't have it with him now that they had some time to relax and recover.

Kira grunted quietly. The mention of Birdie made more memories of Athrun resurface, something he didn't want. He sighed and thought back to the Commander's comment about how his parents would have liked to have met with him. "Even if I did go see them…I'd only find myself asking them why…"

"Why what?"

"Why the hell did they make me a Coordinator!" Kira replied slightly angered by the sheer thought of why. Kira sighed heavily one final time before finishing up his tasks on the Strike. Kira tightened one of his fists angrily as he felt himself on the verge of crying once again.

"Athrun…!"

Inside his hospital room, Athrun was asleep, trying to recuperate as fast as possible. He had a calming yet pained look on his face as he slept. He tightened his eyes and moved his head back and forth groaning in pain and agony. "Ugh…"

While it seemed like he was only facing physical pain, in his mind Athrun was in battle. Athrun dreamt but it was not a dream he wanted to have.

Athrun sat in the shaky cockpit of the Aegis, his target: The Legged Ship's engines. The suit flew as quickly as it possibly could, trying to reach the engines before it went fully into Orb waters. Athrun gritted his teeth and grunted slightly nearing his target. He glanced down at his right control. His hand hovered over the button to release the self-destruction keypad. This was the only thing he could do now that his suit was a battered mess of what it used to be. Before he could push the button a shadow casted over his suit from above. Athrun looked up in horror seeing the Strike diving down.

Seeing the suit with its sabers drawn, Athrun had to act quickly to defend what was left. He moved the front controls in a quick sequence and adjusts his thrusters as the Aegis twirled, its head facing the Strike. Athrun looked down to the only weapon that wouldn't completely exhausts his remaining power; The Multi-barrel CIWS! Pulling hard on the trigger Athrun yelled as the Aegis's head rocked as it released a torrent of bullets. Despite seeing that it did nothing Athrun would not go down without a fight! He expended all of his rounds and stared at the Strike with vengeful eyes.

"Kiiiira!"

Athrun yelled out as he watched the Strike slicing away at his suit. Athrun watched as the cockpit filled up with smoke and shrapnel shot out at him. The last thing he remembered seeing was a piece of shrapnel hitting his visor.

Athrun yelled as his vision was engulfed in darkness and filled with blood.

Athrun woke up yelling. He sat up on the bed, sweat dripping on his back as if he came out of the shower without drying himself. Athrun breathed heavily as he moved the blanket away from his body, trying to cool off from the heat that built up. He sighed multiple times trying to catch his breath. He looked out to the window seeing the pitch black night sky and the scattered stars. Athrun touched his face, feeling a large amount of bandages wrapped around on the right upper side. He felt around for the piece that covered his right eye. Wincing in pain he lifted that part up wanting to feel for himself how much damage there was. He touched it softly but felt little to no sensation. He tried opening his eye, hoping that he'd be able to see out of it.

His vision blurred at first but it slowly cleared to some degree when he opened his injured eye. Though it felt like his vision was blurry with his constant tearing eye, it was just a great relief to open it for once after days of having it closed.

Looking over at the clock above the door he sighed. "03:24…" Athrun knew that this night would be one of the longest ones he ever had. His heart was still trying to calm down. He felt his chest throbbing from the fast beating it went through while he dreamt. Athrun felt sore for the most part but the small steady doses of morphine kept his pain to a minimal manageable level. He wondered what had happened since he was put in the hospital.

Athrun looked around the room seeing nothing he could use to quell his mind about wanting to figure out what was going on. There was a television, but with hospitals notorious history for having bad reception or cable, he was hesitant to use it.

Athrun lied in bed thinking to himself, recalling the events in his mind, trying to remember what happened and make sense of it. All Athrun could recall was his bout with Kira and the failed mission to destroy the legged ship. "I guess it really is true then. We're destined to kill one another…" he said to himself.

Athrun couldn't sleep anymore for the remainder of the night. He sat in bed thinking too much. For nearly five hours all he did was relive what had happened, either in his mind or during his small lapses of slumber due to light fatigue.

When the morning sun came up he looked at it with a renewed sense of joy, somewhat. He looked toward the door to see Nicol entering.

"Hey…" he greeted calmly.

Nicol was surprised to see him up and calm and most importantly; out of pain. Nicol smiled as tears of joy built up as he rushed toward Athrun tackling his friend lightly hugging him.

"I'm so glad you're better!"

Athrun was shocked to see Nicol so happy over his apparent recovery.

Nicol looked up to see Athrun's other eye exposed. "Should you really be doing that?"

Athrun looked at Nicol confusingly wondering what he meant he noticed Nicol looking at his right eye and covered it slightly. "Oh…this? I just couldn't stand keeping my eye closed. At first it was irritating but after a while it got better. I can almost see out of it decently with the sun out." Athrun said chuckling.

"You shouldn't be doing that, what if it had gotten infected?" Nicol argued

"Come on Nicol, this is a hospital, unless I went around the hospital sticking my face in infected areas, I doubt my eye would have been infected with anything. Besides, I think it's good that I let it get some air." Athrun explained.

Nicol sighed and took a seat. "If you say so…"

Athrun sighed and wasted no time. "So what's happened since I was out of action…?"

Nicol looked at him appalled that that was what he wanted to know about when he recovered. "Come on now, Athrun. Just let it go for a bit and chill out. We've plenty of time to figure things out later." He looked at Athrun with pleading eyes.

Athrun sighed and calmed down. "Alright. If that's how you want it, how about you by me some breakfast, I'm famished and in no mood for bad hospital food." He said chuckling.

Nicol smiled and nodded happily. "Sure,"

Nicol helped Athrun out as they headed to the cafeteria. Athrun had forgotten how it was so relaxing to just be calm and have fun in times of small piece. Maybe Nicol was right. Maybe he should just focus on what he could now and get better.

"Once I'm better…I'll deal with the ship and those suits later."

That mid-morning in Gibraltar, Yzak walked around the base in his red uniform, looking at all of the suits and workers on their duties. He felt like a handicapped, not because of his prosthetic arm, but for the fact that he was ordered not to do anything to help out and was forced to "relax".

Yzak grunted angrily as he walked around having nothing to do. "Damn it! What's the point of relaxing when I don't feel tired?" Yzak watched the workers as they rushed toward the run way seeing a plane landing onto the base. Curious as any of the workers he rushed toward the run way following the group. Seeing the parts unloading his eyes widened. "T-that's…"

Yzak watched as they unloaded multiple pieces of the Aegis, Athrun's unit. He watched in silence as his comrades unit was shipped to the hangar. Yzak hastily followed watching at what they'd do to the suit. He was so concerned over the Aegis; Yzak had failed to see that his own suit was going under repairs. He glanced up at his suit seeing the mechanics changing a lot of things on his suit.

"Hey! What the fuck you doing to make suit!" he yelled

The lead engineer at the base turned around looking at him calmly. "Orders from the homeland. We got new blue prints from the homeland late last night." The engineer shook his head, laughing slightly. "Whoever sent these is one crazy guy." He commented looking at the designs.

Yzak grunted angrily at the engineer, but signed when he noticed his suit's armor was well underway to being completed. He looked over to see the Assault Shroud armor being incorporated in the armor in some way.

The engineer walked passed him and yelled out to the workers. "Alright I want 1/3 of the team to work on the finishing up the first suit, and then the rest of you guys get working on the chopped up suit. We got orders to rush these, but that doesn't mean I want it half assed, you hear?"

As the workers began their jobs on the Aegis and finishing up the Duel, Yzak watched them. He watched them working on the Aegis intently, thinking about how Athrun was doing back at Carpentaria. He smiled, thinking back to their days at the academy.

"You were always the one that got the better things out of all of us, but by the time our suits are finished, we'll be back stronger than ever!"

Yzak stepped forth and joined the team working on his own unit, hoping to help speed up the process with more workers on hand. The workers paused seeing him joining them, despite his minimal knowledge of how to repair his unit.

"What are you looking at, get to work!" he yelled at them. He grabbed a safety helmet and looked up at his suit, smiling happily.

After a strenuous and silent night in the hangar Duo looked at his suit smiling at it. "Just a few more parts and a paint job, if there's some time…" he chuckled lightly. Duo looked over toward Wing Zero and sighed heavily. That night when they returned, Heero had locked himself inside Wing Zero, ignoring any attempt Duo made to get him to talk about where he went or what he did while he was out.

Duo sighed and shook his head. "This isn't even like the deal with the freaky scientist," he narrowed his eyes staring at Wing Zero. "There's something more going on and I get the feeling if I don't figure things out as soon as possible it's going to be something we all are going to regret."

The sound of the beeping intercom turning on interrupted Duo's thoughts. "Duo, there's someone here to see you." Erica's voice alerted. The doors opened and Duo looked over. He knew that it had to be the junk dealer Erica told him about, but he had never seen the guy before, so he had everything to expect and had every right to be cautious.

Standing at the entrance was Lowe. He stood there staring at the two suits in awe. He stood there unaware that the door was closing. "Oh shit!" He rushed in quickly just in the nick of time before the door closed. Lowe sighed in relief as he walked in. He looked up seeing the two suits before him. Lowe grinned excitedly seeing Wing Zero and Deathscythe.

"This is going to be soo great. I didn't know doc would have me help out with these kinds of suits."

Duo chuckled hearing the young man talk about their suits. Though it had become some kind of a dying trend, he didn't mind hearing the constant appreciation for his machine. He approached Lowe, smiling. "Yo,"

Lowe turned looking at Duo. "Hey, you Duo?" He asked.

"Yea, that's me. I might run and hide but I'll never tell a lie!" Duo said.

Lowe chuckled at his statement, finding this guy's open cheerful personality highly likeable. "Well I'm Lowe Guele, here to help you out. Well that's what I'm told to do. So which one's yours?" He looked at the two suits smiling like a kid in a toy store. He could barely hold himself from just going at it and looking at what made these suits different, compared to the Alliance's or Zaft's.

"Over here," Duo walked toward Deathscythe and stood in front of his suit proudly, grinning.

Lowe had the biggest smile in his life. He saw how the suit was already either on its way to completion or on its way to being worked on. Lowe didn't know what the situation was, but either way it was chance to learn something new about new technology and he couldn't pass it up.

"Sweet suit!" he yelled laughing.

"Lowe! Pay attention, you're here on a job!" a voice shouted.

Duo raised an eyebrow looking at Lowe like he was crazy. He heard someone talking, and it couldn't have been Heero, he didn't know Lowe and he didn't talk a lot. With no one else in the room Duo looked at Lowe cautiously. "You OK?"

Lowe groaned and raised his large laptop like device looking at the screen. "Hachi, cool your jets! We got time!"

What made Duo think Lowe was crazy was confirmed when he talked to his laptop. "Great…a junkie with a crazy head…just…my…luck" Duo's assumption was put to rest when he heard something from the device.

"Well they don't have a lot of time and I've seen you take weeks just working on Red!"

Duo's eyes nearly popped out of his head. This was a new level of crazy he was not ready for. He didn't know what was going on with that machine, and to be honest, he didn't give a shit about what was going on. "H-hey how about we just schedule for next time, it's obvious you forgot to take some of your happy pills right?"

Lowe gave him a glare frowning at Duo for assuming such a thing from him.

Duo looked at him nervously. "Uh…too many happy pills?" he shrugged smiling.

Lowe sighed and approached Duo, but the cautious reaper backed away slightly until Lowe explained what it was that he was holding.

Duo sighed in relief and chuckled. "Sorry about the crazy thing. The closest thing I experienced with AI is mobile suits trying to kill me." Duo laughed out loud rubbing the back of his head.

Just as Erica suspected of Duo and Lowe, the two really did hit it off well, after some heavy explanation on both sides that is. Lowe assisted Duo and called some junk dealers around the area and helped Duo out by not only getting him parts he wanted but parts that his suit may have needed to help it perform better. Duo was surprised by Lowe's innate skill with technology.

"This guy…if he's this good with recognizing a mobile suits weaknesses and strengths, especially from another Era…just thinking about how he does in his own mobile suit scares the Hell out of me." Duo thought.

While the two worked on Deathscythe, Heero remained inside the cockpit of Wing Zero working on the drive constantly. It was his second day with no sleep, but like any other time he just forced his body to adapt and work through it. "I got to figure out what's in this drive…" he thought. Heero ignored what happened outside of the cockpit, solely focused on the task at hand, but even he had his limits without sleep and rest. Heero looked at the time and sighed calmly.

Wing Zero's cockpit opened as Heero exited the machine. Lowe looked over to see who the pilot was and to his surprise, it was the man he bumped into. He put down his tools and removed his safety goggles watching Heero leave. "That's the pilot of that suit?" he questioned.

Duo looked at Lowes eyes and then looked over at Heero. "Wait...you know the guy?"

Lowe sighed and shook his head, "Not personally. The guy bumped into in the city yesterday, making me drop a couple good finds."

Duo scoffed. "Who would have thought I'd get something about Heero's outing from a guy I met today…?"

Lowe gritted his teeth in anger but soon sighed and let it go. He put on his goggles again and continued helping Duo.

"I'll…be back soon." Duo said. He got off of Deathscythe and rushed to stop Heero.

"Hey! Heero!" He yelled

Heero was drained but not out of it just yet. He turned around and looked at Duo staring at him with cold but obviously tired eyes.

"Whoa, you don't look so good."

"What?" Heero said agitatedly

Duo leaned in close and spoke as quietly as he could. "What the hell happened yesterday? You got something from the drive didn't you…?"

Heero was too tired from days without sleep, answering Duo quickly to get him off his back.. "Yea, I'll fill you in when I get back."

Duo looked at him curiously. "Where you going now?"

"Bed," Heero replied quickly. Heero exited the hangar and headed toward the Archangel to go to his quarters for a well-earned moment's rest.

Duo watched him leave and sighed worriedly. "Something's really got him on edge. I haven't seen him like this since I met the guy." Duo sighed when Lowe called him. Turning around Duo smiled and returned to working on his unit, hopeful that he would finish things up before they left.

As the sun began to set, readying for a new night, smoke from a burning fire rose into the sky. Sitting by the fire was Cassius, sitting under a tree watching the embers burn as the fire grew larger and brighter. A tone sounded to his right. Pulling out his phone he looked at the screen noticing something alarming. He sighed disappointedly.

"Shouldn't have left him alone." He said. "Hopefully, the other units will be able to salvage what remains, and if the bastards lucky, he'll live by the time he's needed." Cassius completed.

The sound of a large turbine spinning alerted him of some incoming object. He smiled as his suit made a landing a few meters from his location. In between the suits arm was a large yellow device that looked like some kind of asteroid splitter. On the device was the worldwide insignia for a nuclear related device, a yellow circle at the center and three small rectangles at three corners.

Cassius stood up and put out the fire. He approached the suit and smiled. Getting into the cockpit he sighed quietly.

"I already know. He'll be in critical condition for a while, hopefully he'll be alive. Let's get going. There's not much time left. We got fifteen seconds until the portal opens. I really got to work on finding a better way for this kind of travel" He commented lightly looking at a timer in the cockpit. "Takes too fucking long to recharge…."

As a distortion began to form in the sky, Cassius flipped a switch on the panel. The red sphere at the center flipped up and revealed the cockpit. A flooding cloud of particles released from the front of the cockpit into the area around the suit.

"You know what to do…" he commented.

The waves of particles surrounded the long yellow device and began changing. By the time that the portal had formed and readied, the device was contained in larger container. Cassius put his hands on the controls and smiled. Pushing a button on the large handle, the suit began to glow as the sound of the spinning increased to ear shattering levels. The red particles surrounded the suit as it changed to a redish-pink hue. The suit flew up quickly, leaving trails of after images. It flew into the portal and left the area. The portal sparked and thundered as it stretched out. A bright flash of light ensued as there was nothing left.

There was nothing that left any trace that there was a suit or a person in the area besides the pile of burned sticks of wood.

Late that night at the Carpentaria base the three teammates had a brief moment of rest and settled their mind elsewhere for a majority of the day. Their moment of joy ended when they received a call from a close friend.

"It's good to see you guys doing well." Yzak said looking at the three through the screen; his face dirtied with oil and grease. He saw the three bundled together to get into the camera's range of view. Yzak saw Athrun's face bandaged up. He tightened his fist but tried to keep things casual seeing how they had a relatively good day.

"You guys look like you were doing nothing but sitting on your butts while I have been doing all the work over here."

Nicol smiled "They let you work after your surgery? I thought you had to have a week or two of rest."

"Nah, resting's not my thing. And besides I managed to finish fixing up the Duel this afternoon. Everyone here is pulling an all-nighter, so the Aegis should be fixed up by mid-morning tomorrow. I'll probably see you guys around noon at Gibraltar."

The three friends smiled at the chance of the team reuniting. Athrun smiled and stood upright, staring at the screen. He felt his adrenaline and excitement rush through his body, knowing that by tomorrow the Le Crueset team would be reunited.

"Well then you should know that Commander Le Crueset made me leader."

Yzak scoffed. "Yea, yea, yea. Rub it in why don't you. Well I got work to do so I'll see you guys soon." Yzak was about to turn off the device when he stopped. "Oh yea, I sent you guys some data we got from the homeland. We got the real names of the Delta's and the name of Delta One's pilot." Yzak smiled evilly knowing that if Zala was like him, he'd relish in the thought of access to this kind of information.

With that Yzak cut the line.

Everyone was silent for a moment as they heard what Yzak said. They were unsure if what he said was truly real or not. Now they had the names of the suits that caused them so much trouble? It seemed unreal.

Athrun sighed and looked down thinking for a moment. His brief episode of kindness and carefree attitude was replaced with one that Dearka and Nicol knew all too well, and to much of Nicol's objection, the Athrun he had spent the day with was now gone.

Nicol looked at his friend cautiously as Athrun accessed the files seeing the Delta One and Delta Two's true codenames and the name of Delta One's pilot.

He tightened his fist and stared at the screen angrily. "We're coming for you, Heero Yuy!"

Nicol looked at Athrun worriedly as a sickening feeling grew at the thought of the next battle.

The next day in Orb was one of joy and sorrow. The parents were saying their final goodbyes to their children, unsure of when they would be able to see them again. Things were being rounded out and finished up in a timely manner.

That afternoon things were being completed and slowly loaded onto the Archangel getting set to launch the next day. Heero and Duo were one of the first to set their machines back into the ship.

Everyone took notice of Duo's machine, its new look seeming like some kind of fusion of technologies. The suit's most notable appearance change was the presence of a new backpack. Duo kept the large jammers that Deathscythe had originally but the backpack contained a small bat-like wing. The shield was the next thing to be overhauled. The curves on the fangs of his buster shield became sharper and pointed, giving it a deadlier look and more effectiveness in battle. More thrusters were added to the suit to aid it in flight. The shoulder armor contained two added pieces each containing one extra thruster. Standing there, still, Deathscythe didn't seem like it would do anything different then it would have done before the overhaul. Duo looked up at Deathscythe, seeing how it looked new, stock, even. He smiled and sighed happily.

"Now we'll get to fight on even ground. Just wait until they see the God of Death in action!"

Duo was itching for some action after nearly five days of doing nothing pertinent. Duo looked over at Heero and looked at him seriously. The evening before was one of the most stressful for him to go through.

*flashback*

Duo waved goodbye to Lowe, seeing his new friend off for the night after their day long work on his suit. Duo turned around and saw Heero standing there with a serious stare as always. Duo's smile changed, matching his friend's serious demeanor.

"So what do you got?"

Duo crossed his arms. It was about damn time that he was let in on something important to their situation, but he didn't prepare himself for what Heero had to say. Duo's eyes widened as he listened Heero's words. His hands dropped in pure shock at what he was told.

"Y-you can't be serious!" he yelled finding it hard to believe.

*end flashback*

Duo tightened his fist. Thinking back to the night before, he questioned whether or not he and Heero should have left the Archangel given that the suits were repaired and resupplied "The longer we stay with them, the more trouble it will be for the Archangel, but if what Heero said is true, everyone's in trouble anyway…" Duo grunted annoyingly. He hated situations like these. He wanted to leave and did what he did best, fight alone and follow his own instincts to find a way to end this. On the other hand, he had grown accustomed to having a team or at the very least frequent access to tools to help repair his gundam from time to time.

Duo sighed and walked up to his monotone friend. He stood by Wing Zero looking at Heero for a moment before looking down at the ground, acting like they had noting important to discuss.

"So what's the plan? You going to leave the ship and go to space? Orb does have mass drivers…" Duo said.

Heero leaned against Wing Zero's, who unlike Deathscythe, receive no physical alterations whatsoever. It remained close to what it looked like when he had arrived in the Cosmic Era. Heero remained silent, having much on his mind about what he would do next considering what happened with Cassius. He told Duo a portion of what happened, but kept the personal things just that, personal.

Heero knew what he had to do here in the Cosmic Era was his business and his alone. He didn't want anyone involved with his problems, but like Duo, a part of him had grown accustomed to being on this ship and being around people. Heero closed his eyes and thought for a moment deciding on his next move.

"I'll see them all the way to Alaska. I'll leave after that."

Duo looked up at Heero slightly surprised that he had decided on such a long termed goal. "Well…if that's what you're doing, then I'll follow you. That scientist came from our Era and he's our problem. Let's just hope that by the end we can just go home and think of our experiences here as just some kind of weird ass dream." Duo said sighing heavily. Duo walked away heading back to his suit and watched everyone loading things up.

Heero ignored Duo's words about how the scientist was their problem. He sighed looking down knowing full well that it was his problem, not theirs. His mindset slowly changed as he began thinking for himself having little consideration about those around him.

Heero pulled out the three discs from his rear right pocket. He fanned them out and looked at them as Cassius words rang in his head.

On the run way at Carpentaria, the three teens watched as a carrier landed containing their friend and the two newly repaired suits that were needed for their next mission. Yzak disembarked the ship and looked at his allies. The team regrouped and rejoiced at the return of their team. Yzak looked at Athrun seeing his still bandaged face.

"So you going to remove that…?" he asked bluntly.

Nicol looked at Yzak worriedly and shot back at Athrun wondering if it would take his bandages off.

"Don't Athrun! You got to let it heal all the way!"

Athrun raised his hand and smiled Nicol. "Don't worry, I won't take it off yet. I will take it off when we commence our attack."

Yzak grinned at the sound of battle. "So any idea where that ship is now? Last I heard from talk in Gibraltar was that the ship sunk when the Orb Fleet shot it down."

Athrun tightened his fist at the mention that the ship was "Shot down".

"No, I'm sure that the ship is in Orb."

"How can you be sure? You were in the ocean and your cockpit must have been waterlogged, you probably couldn't have seen a thing!" Dearka argued.

"No I'm sure the damn things alive. It's got to be in there somewhere. I heard one of the Legged Ship's pilots hailing to the fleet."

"So? They could have caused the fleet to get pissy and then they got shot." Dearka suggested

"Shut up and let the guy explain!" Yzak yelled. He looked at Athrun and noticed the stare in his eyes. Athrun had a ligament reason to back up his words; Yzak could feel that in the bottom of his gut.

"The pilot of the other Skygrasper is the daughter to the heir of ORB." He announced. "That's what I heard."

Everyone grew silent and the notion that the legged ship was still standing made more sense to them. Yzak looked at Athrun and smirked. "Getting shot down's changed ya. And I got to say Athrun, I like it."

Athrun smiled in return and looked at all his teammates. "We'll head for the border once again. It's been about five days or so since they escape. I'm sure that they have to be leaving by now. And if they already left we'll strike them while they're heading to Alaska, and hit them with all our suits!"

While Yzak and Dearka were quick to agree to the plan Nicol was sickened by it. He kept quiet and trailed behind his team as they prepared to leave that night.

Back in Morgenroete, the Archangel prepared to make its final preparations for departure.

Arnold sat at the helm looking at the map, listening to Captain Ramius and Lieutenant Badgiruel while they conversed with Kisaka on where they should go next.

"Our main concern right now would be Panama. Carpentaria is buzzing with rumors that Zaft is planning some sort of massive operation…" Kisaka informed.

Natarle looked at Kisaka. "How reliable is your information on this?" She was concerned about a possible bad Intel that could lead them into a deadly trap.

"I do not know to be honest. ORB is in a precarious situation here. We want intelligence but we don't want to cause any trouble. But besides that point, you have a clear advantage here. You guys are headed to Alaska."

"And even if they chose to follow us all the way there once we pass the Tropic of Cancer we'll be in Alaska's air force space. I doubt they'd be crazy enough to follow us all the way there…" Arnold commented.

Listening to everyone's input Murrue nodded. Though she felt safe that their passage to the Tropic of Cancer would be successful given their forces, there still remained one concerning issue. She looked at Kisaka speaking softly. "What about the Zaft forces that were chasing after us?"

Kisaka smiled briefly. "Our records show that they retreated to Carpentaria. Seeing as they lost two units, I doubt they'd rush in to attack you so quickly before regrouping their forces."

Murrue smiled calmly glad to hear that the trip to Alaska would be a calming one.

"But I wouldn't let your guard down so easily, Captain Ramius. Like you, they have had days to recuperate and repair their suits and resupply. I wouldn't be surprised if at one point in your journey you run into them once again." Kisaka cautioned.

Natarle grew curious when Kisaka mentioned the destruction of the G-weapons. It reminded her of the talk around the base that Representative Athha knew nothing about the mobile suits or the Archangel. "Is it true that Representative Athha knew nothing about the construction of the mobile suits or this ship?" She questioned bluntly

"Lieutenant Badgiruel!" Murrue yelled.

Kisaka raised his hand to calm the Captain down.

"Yes, it's true that he didn't know anything about the whole affair. Yielding under pressure from the Atlantic Federation, a number of cabinet members made the decision on their own. Morgenroete turned out to be involved as well. I understand the arguments from the people who want ORB to declare itself to one side or another, but if we were to involve ourselves in the war, it would be our people who'd suffer the most."

Kisaka soon left the three leaving them to tend to his own duties.

With the Archangel just a mere day away from launching, the tension mounted as all the soldiers, workers, and pilots readied themselves.

The next day finally arrived as the area flooded with sea water, ready to assist the Archangel in its departure. As the Archangel prepared to leave, Zaft was slowly making its way toward Orb Waters. Though most of the crew on the Archangel felt confident that their leave and remaining journey would be full of leisure, Heero, Duo, and Kira stood ready by their suits, knowing that the battle and struggle would not end until all of the stolen G-weapons were captured or shot down.

Author's note: Well here is chapter 13 and it's been a little while I know that. I had some things to do before so lost 3 days' worth of writing. The talking and etc ends here for the most part. Next few chapters will contain fighting and action. I hope everyone had a decent Xmas and got some good stuff. I know I did, got Gundam vs. Gundam Extreme. Hope you enjoyed the chapter, Please review, and Happy New Year!