AUTHOR'S NOTE: I personally have always felt that the attractive, stern and by-the-book Natarle was an extremely interesting character who deserved better than she got. So I have decided to retcon her death and allow her to survive.
There is one other character I have decided to rescue here: Juri. The reason for this is simple: Though a minor character in the series, I liked her and felt that from the way her machine was destroyed, it is entirely possible that she could have survived, though the series made it plain she did not. Well I decided that in my version, she did.
After much deliberation, we decided that Mwu LaFlaga's death, as one of the greatest tragedies and most defining moments of the series conclusion, remains. So unfortunately the Hawk of Endymion will not survive. On a related note, while it is well known that Murrue Ramius had very strong feelings towards Mwu – which he reciprocated – I have always personally thought that Natarle secretly felt just as strongly about him, which is reflected here.
September 26, Cosmic Era 71; ZAFT Space Fortress Jachin Due
Orb Union space battleship Kusanagi mobile suit team
"Strike Rouge, taking off!" Cagalli announced as the Kusanagi's single linear catapult launched the machine, equipped with the Aile Striker.
Behind her, the ship's MBF-M1 Astrays followed. The first out of the catapults were Units 211, 212, and 213, piloted by Asagi Caldwell, Mayura Labatt, and Juri Wu Nien.
Those three machines slid into formation behind the Strike Rouge, and all of them accelerated towards the battlefield.
Even as they closed in, ZAFT fired GENESIS, and the massive beam of concentrated gamma radiation shot through the battlefield on its way to the moon, where it obliterated the Ptolemaus lunar base. More than half of the Alliance's reinforcement forces, which had left the base and were headed towards the PLANTs, were likewise destroyed.
The four mobile suits were forced to scatter as ZAFT forces opened fire on them. Mayura countered with the Astray's beam rifle, taking out two of the enemy GINNs before one of the enemy's new-model GuAIZ mobile suits attacked, flanking her Astray.
She turned to counter, drawing the Astray's beam saber and swinging it towards the GuAIZ's torso. However, she was not fast enough; its twin beam blades skewered the Astray's torso, incinerating its cockpit and killing Mayura instantly even as her own saber bit into its side.
"Damn it!" Juri muttered as she saw what happened, and she and Asagi both opened fire on the GuAIZ. Caught in the crossfire between the two machines, the GuAIZ was unable to evade the attack, which destroyed it.
Additional ZAFT mobile suits closed in, opening fire on the Orb mobile suits. A CGUE fired its machine gun at the Strike Rouge, the bullets harmlessly bouncing off its Phase-Shift Armor even as, assisted by the machine's enhanced defensive AI, Cagalli slipped out of the line of fire and counterattacked, firing a shot from the beam rifle that blasted off its arm.
Then the Strike Rouge accelerated, as did the two Astrays. Behind them, Dearka Elsman's Buster did likewise, and when a pair of Alliance Strike Daggers closed in, firing on the formation, he fired first the Buster's gun launcher, then the beam rifle, destroying both.
Still more Alliance Strike Daggers opened fire on the approaching mobile suits. The sheer numbers and the volume of firepower being directed towards the small group scared Juri, but she brought her shield to bear and used the Astray's array of thrusters to slide out of the line of fire. She was able to block or dodge the first wave of attacks, but one shot slipped past her, impacting the Astray's upper torso. The perspective of dying terrified Juri, and she screamed as the damage to the Astray caused an explosion that sheared off its arm and head.
"Juri!" Asagi yelled as she saw the explosion. A second later she realized her mistake - taking advantage of her inattention, a Strike Dagger fired a pair of rifle shots that pierced the torso just above the cockpit, and the explosion killed her instantly.
"MURDEROUS BASTARDS!" Cagalli screamed in anger as she saw this happen.
Suddenly, she felt her perceptions of the battlefield increase, and she was more aware of exactly where her targets were and their movement.
Accelerating, she leveled her beam rifle and unleashed a barrage of rifle shots at one of the Daggers. The Dagger dodged, but she adjusted her fire, aiming at where she knew its course would take it. The shot destroyed the Dagger instantly, and she turned her fire on the next two Daggers to attack the Strike Rouge, annihilating both in a single shot each. Then she glanced at her console, and she saw that one of the Astrays had not been destroyed - not completely at least.
Inside the cockpit of her Astray, Juri lay still, bleeding from wounds caused by the damage to her Astray. By some miracle, she was still alive.
"Are you all right?" She heard Cagalli's voice.
- "Not…really." She said weakly. "But I'm alive…somehow."
- "Get back to the Kusanagi." Cagalli replied. "I'll cover you."
- "Thanks." She said, though she was crying. She was, somehow, alive. But her two best friends had not been so fortunate - Asagi and Mayura were both dead.
Blinking away her tears, she fumbled with a first aid kit, trying to patch the wounds to her arm and side. Then she grasped the controls with shaking hands and the badly-damaged Astray began to limp back to the Kusanagi. Cagalli covered the Astray's retreat, firing at any mobile suits that came too close. As they drew near, she contacted Kisaka, and the ship's hatch opened to receive the crippled mobile suit.
Meanwhile, Cagalli floored the throttles, accelerating the Strike Rouge and rushing back into battle. Ahead of her, she saw a flight of large missiles, which she recognized as nuclear. She immediately fired, targeting the missiles with the Strike Rouge's beam rifle.
Suddenly, alarms rang out in her cockpit, and she realized that she was under attack from behind.
Before she could do anything, another mobile suit slipped in behind her, blocking the attack. She recognized the Duel, which immediately turned and fired on the attacking mobile suit - one of the new Alliance models that had been in Orb. The one that could bend the beam from its cannon.
The Forbidden raised its shields, activating the Geschmeidig Panzer and deflecting the Duel's shots. A second later, a volley from the Buster's 35cm Anti-Armor Shotgun slammed into the Forbidden from above.
Then Yzak drew the Duel's beam saber and charged.
Thrown off-balance for a second, Shani recovered and immediately opened fire on the Duel with the Forbidden's Plasma Induction Cannon. The shot hit, and Shani smirked, thinking his enemy destroyed.
The Duel charged out of the smoke, having sacrificed the Assault Shroud to make it appear that the shot had destroyed his machine. In each hand he held one of the Duel's beam sabers.
The Forbidden raised its scythe, but Yzak was too fast and too close. With a single swipe of his saber, he sliced off both the Forbidden's arms just below the elbow, then he drove the second blade into its torso to the hilt.
The Duel and the Buster turned their attention to the Alliance ships. Once again Dearka took the Anti-Armor Shotgun and fired a shot that tore apart the side of one of the carriers.
Yzak spotted the lead ship and, switching over to the Duel's beam rifle, closed in. Raising the weapon, he fired the single 175mm rocket-propelled grenade, which smashed its way through the bridge windows and slammed into the bulkhead at the other end before detonating, obliterating the structure.
Then both he and Dearka fired a second barrage, which completed the ship's destruction.
Atlantic Federation assault carrier LCAM-02XA Dominion
"Lohengrin Two, fire!" Natarle ordered. Too slow - before the weapon could fire, a barrage of Helldart missiles from the Archangel struck the weapon, destroying it. They had lost half of the ship's main weapons and most of their mobile suits. Then the CIC reported the destruction of both the Forbidden and the Raider. They had lost half of the ship's main weapons, and their mobile suit force had been decimated. Natarle was just thinking that the situation was bad, and it could only get worse, when the CIC confirmed her guess.
"The Doolittle has been sunk!"
'And now, the flagship of our fleet has been destroyed. We ourselves are in no condition to continue like this.' She thought dejectedly. Glancing at the monitor, she saw that the Archangel was not moving, and she saw that the Strike was closing in. Bringing up a visual, she saw that it was badly damaged.
"It's stopped. Fire!" Muruta Azrael, leader of Blue Cosmos, screamed frantically. "Hurry and destroy that thing – target the Lohengrin!" For a second, the weapons operator hesitated, and Flay Allster opened up a communications link to the other ship.
- "No! Stop it! Archangel, get out of there!"
-"You stupid little bitch," Azrael ranted as he rushed to the radio console and struck her, knocking her aside. "What's wrong with you!" As he pulled a gun from inside his jacket, a single gunshot rang out, and his wrist snapped sideways, blood spouting as a single bullet shattered the bone.
"I have had just about enough of this." Natarle Badgiruel, standing at her console, commented coldly, a thin wisp of smoke curling from the barrel of her sidearm, which she held leveled at Azrael. As he retrieved his weapon in his uninjured hand and turned towards her she pulled the trigger again, shooting him in the stomach.
"We have suffered significant damage, and our mobile suits have all been destroyed. This ship is no longer in a condition to continue battle. I am therefore ordering an immediate evacuation. All hands, abandon ship." The bridge crew stood and ran, and as Azrael made to follow she shut the door and locked it.
-"You BITCH!" Azrael, despite his wounds, rushed Natarle and fired, shooting her in the leg. Gritting her teeth against the pain, she turned towards him and delivered a vicious kick to the maniac's stomach, her heel slamming into the bullet wound. Azrael screamed, then slumped as she slammed the weapon into his face. There was a sharp, clearly audible crack as Azrael's nose broke, and the stunned terrorist floated away.
Left alone on the bridge, she turned her pistol on the weapons control console and emptied its magazine, destroying it, then tossed aside the useless weapon and retrieved Azrael's, which floated nearby. She checked the magazine – six rounds. She saw that Azrael was beginning to stir and fired a single shot into each kneecap, shattering them.
"You're a monster, Muruta Azrael, and you will burn in hell." She sneered as she leveled the weapon a final time and shot him in the chest. Then she opened the door and left. Once it closed she fired the remaining rounds in the magazine into the electronic locking mechanism, destroying it. Then she headed towards the hangar.
She found that her crew had left in the only lifeboat. She looked around the hangar, and spotted exactly what she needed: The Dominion's shuttle - a small, long-range, single-occupancy shuttle, perfect for her needs. She made her way across the hangar and boarded the tiny craft. Turning it on, she flew it out of the open hangar and into space.
Unfortunately, she had made a critical mistake.
On the bridge, the dying Azrael, in agony from his multiple gunshot wounds, dragged himself to the main console. The bitch had shot him in the lung, and he could tell he would be dead before long.
"Damn…it." He swore. "I can't…die…like this." Using his remaining hand, he tapped at the console and was able to reroute the weapons controls from the destroyed console to this one, which was intact.
Then he activated the remaining Lohengrin, targeting the Archangel.
"That's…right. I can…still…win. I always…win." With his dying breath, he fired the weapon.
In the shuttle, Natarle bandaged her leg wound using the emergency supplies in the cockpit, then turned on the emergency beacon. Suddenly she looked up at the Dominon.
"It can't be…that bastard!" she exclaimed as she saw the Lohengrin's barrel slowly deploy and begin to glow. Then it fired, the beam only narrowly missing the escaping lifepod as it shot towards its target. There was no way for the Archangel to dodge at such close range.
The Strike drifted in front of the ship, blocking the attack and for a few agonizing seconds, holding it back. Then as the massively powerful weapon burned through the shield, over the shuttle's radio she heard a voice she knew very well: a radio communication from the Strike to the Archangel.
"Didn't I tell you I could make the impossible…possible?" Mwu LaFlaga. The next instant the Strike exploded.
The Archangel was saved. But Mwu was dead.
"NO!" Natarle screamed, horrified. Then she saw the Archangel deploy its own Lohengrin. "Now," she yelled through her tears, "Murrue Ramius, FIRE!"
That same instant on the Archangel's bridge, the same word left Murrue Ramius's lips, and in a blinding flash the Dominion was obliterated.
It would be hours before Natarle was rescued, long after the battle ended with the destruction of Jachin Due. Eventually the Agamemnon-class carrier Spencer intercepted the emergency beacon being broadcast from the shuttle and retrieved it. As she staggered out she haltingly explained that she had evacuated her crew from the damaged Dominion and, unable to board the lifeboat herself, had taken the shuttle instead.
She asked about the escape craft, and learned that moments before the Archangel retrieved it, it had been destroyed by a ZAFT mobile suit. She would have wept for the loss of her crew, especially Flay. But she found she no longer had any tears to shed.