This work and all contained within are the property of Abyssal Lasombre Prod. and His Divine Shadow, with the exceptions of the names trademarked by Bandai for Mobile Suit Gundam. This is no challenge to that trademark or any other Bandai product and/or copyright.

Later chapters hold references to various works by Zinegata and Redcomet. These have been used with permission by both authors.

Alterations to the logistics of the Mobile Suit Gundam universe are the work of His Divine Shadow, and not to be considered canon.

Mobile Suit Gundam: In Vain Doth Valour Bleed

- His Divine Shadow

An Abyssal Lasombre Production

O yet a nobler task awaits thy hand
(For what can war but endless war still breed?)
Till truth and right from violence be freed,
And public faith cleared from the shameful brand
Of public fraud. In vain doth Valour bleed,
While Avarice and Rapine share the land.


- Milton

Prologue

Metz, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


Is this what the end of the world feels like?

His name was Reinhardt von Seydlitz, Colonel of Zeon Mobile Infantry, and he, like the rest of the Zeon forces of Operation Lorelei, was in retreat. Slogging through the snows of Alsace-Lorraine, his mottled brown-and-green MS-07 Gouf seemed to move as sluggishly as a man would in the cold. Steam rose from its battered shoulders as the heat of the Minovsky fusion reactor vaporized melting ice and snow from the seared and pitted armor. The Gouf, like its pilot, had been fighting for a long time, and the retreat seemed to grate on the nerves of the mobile suit the same as von Seydlitz's, if the creaking sounds it made from its frozen and field-battered actuators were signs of fatigue for an inanimate object. Only the heating unit within the suit itself kept its pilot from moving with the same staggered sluggishness.

His cold gray eyes swept across the monitors of the Gouf, surveying the tableau the screen presented before him. Ancient trees, majestic in their age and stature, towered above the mobile suits moving towards them. Unconsciously, his eyes narrowed, scanning the tree line in the camera's view for any sign of movement or a trap. There were none. In the forests, the Zeon still ruled, and their enemies feared those places. With a flick of a wrist, the Gouf signaled its fellow Zeon mobile suits forward. The MS-06F and -J Zakus with him began to move forward again.

Despite the damage dealt to its exterior, the Gouf still bore the symbol of the 10th Panzerkaempfer Division: the golden eagle of Germania, wings outstretched, perched atop the golden standard of the Duchy of Zeon. As if in contrast to the golden eagle's majesty, von Seydlitz's own standard was the black eagle of Imperial Prussia, clutching a crown and sceptre in its talons. Before assuming command of the entirety of the 10th, the Prussian eagle, altered to grasp a 120mm autocannon and heat hawk in its unyielding grip, had been the unit insignia for the 358th 'Unsullied' Light Assault Battalion, which he'd personally commanded.

No. Not the end until you are dead. The Feddies have not killed me yet, so this is not the end of anything!

It had been a grand campaign, this smaller set of objectives nestled in with the mammoth Operation British, the Zeon assault on Terra. Operation Lorelei, the conquest of Central Europe, spearheaded by the cream of Kishiria Zavi's Mobile Assault Corps, the 10th Panzerkaempfer Division, led by the man who may have been the greatest armor commander in the entire Zeon Army; now that operation lay broken by the numerical might of the Earth Federation and the cowardice and shortsightedness of the Zavi family. But the Feddies had not broken the 10th's resolve to fight it out and wait for reinforcements. Those reinforcements had never come, and now what had been a brigade's worth of strength, 4 battalions of mobile suits and infantry, was now a pitiful collection of less than 20 mobile suits. Another company's worth were still in Metz, holding off the crushing weight of the entire Federation 9th Army, granting von Seydlitz and his ragtag band of Zakus and his own Gouf to escape, if at all possible. Most of the Zakus were missing entire limbs, and were being partially supported by their more able comrades.

And if we escape, what then? What good are eighteen suits going to do? How do I change the face of the war with THAT? No ammunition, no food, no hope.

The Federation dominated the skies, and had for some time, but the dismal weather had grounded all but the most determined of Feddie Core Fighter pilots, all aiming to cut themselves off a piece of the 10th's leftovers. Von Seydlitz understood that. A student of military history all his life, he knew the value of the land Metz stood upon. The Federation had walked into the labyrinth of fortresses and terrible terrain time and time again, and come out suffering for their troubles. In the end, things had settled into a siege that had lasted three months. But that ended with the last Zanzibar transport departing Terra's surface, flying Colonel M'Quve back to Side 3, safe and sound, to fight the war in space. After that, the Federation turned its attentions to more pressing problems, like their upcoming counteroffensive against the Archduchy in space, and the elimination of the final groundborne thorn in their side, the 10th Panzerkaempfer.

Garma Zavi and Ranba Ral are dead. M'Quve is gone. Kerane's Tibetan division is in a shambles. Sakhalin's test project in Southeast Asia is too far to do any good here. With no transports left, then there is no escape back into space. . .and I am under orders to abandon this place.

The war-torn company reached the tree line that began the trail towards Karlsruhe, then into the Schwarzwald. The forested areas were the one place in this siege the Feddies had not bothered to occupy or cut off, except with air power. With their air forces either grounded or aiding in the attack on the city, none were spared to keep view on this desolate corner of Europe, hence von Seydlitz's penchant for using it to escape through. The Federation had learned to its dismay the dangers in chasing the 10th into a forest, and they gave dense woodlands a wide berth now.

The Gouf, at his command, turned back to look at the ruin that was once Metz. The fires were burning out of control now, in spite of the cold, and the rumble of massed artillery and a lot of mobile suits concentrated in a single area could be felt through the earth below the Gouf's feet, well into the cockpit and into von Seydlitz's brain. The vibrations took his mind off the humiliation of defeat, which took his mind off the fact that he had not touched food in a week, like the rest of his men.

Condemned to a grave on defiled Terra. I doubt they will allow my corpse to molder in Deutschland, even if requested.

The Zakus, slower than his Gouf and in worse a condition, moved into the forest, all but one. Like all the 10th's mobile suits, the Zaku, one of the few J-types the 10th had received before being cut off, also sported the mottled brown-and-green "panzer" camouflage color scheme that blended so well with the terrain in Europe, except that where von Seydlitz had the black eagle of Prussia stenciled on the left breastplate of his Gouf, this Zaku had a four-pointed white star, with a sword bisecting its brightness, emblazoned on its armor. The Zaku's hand reached out to touch the shoulder of the Gouf, its pilot initiating the "skin talk" communication method they were under orders to use: one of the many battlefield innovations the 10th used while at war.

Everything, from field tactics to color schemes to rank designations, was different in the 10th Panzerkaempfer than the rest of the Zeon armed forces. General von Mellenthin had earned them all those rights, by word and by blood.

"Colonel," the tinny voice of the Zaku pilot said, "it's time to go. Gyar's company is about to fold. Don't let their sacrifice be in vain."

Von Seydlitz sighed once, teeth grinding in hate at the Federation and all Earthnoids for what they'd cost him. "Understood, Kommandant. Proceed with the evacuation." Von Seydlitz still used German to designate ranks, unlike the rest of the 10th. Only one other person in the division had done the same, but von Mellenthin was gone now, captured three days ago, alive, by a Federation GM team.

"I will not comply, Generalmajor!"

"You will obey my command! Take the men and get out of Metz, now! Gyar knows what to do, now go, damn you! I will not have you sacrifice yourself to save me, Reinhardt!!"

Von Seydlitz had eventually complied, but not until three days had passed. Now, he obeyed his orders, and they burned his soul. Von Mellenthin was more than a General to him. The Gouf turned to follow, then disappeared into the forest, not looking back again.

Cuvry, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


The Big Tray-class land battleship that was the mobile command post for the Federation 9th Army remained well outside the operational area occupied by Metz. Rather, it was situated in the township of Cuvry, 8 km distant. Within the massive war machine, Captain Lucas Edgrove raced as fast as his lanky legs could carry him up the narrow stairwells leading to the upper levels. Screeching to a halt before a steel door bearing the name DERRICK, he rapped quickly three times.

"Come," spoke the voice behind the door. Edgrove opened it without hesitation, saluting as he entered.

General Walker Derrick, commander of the 9th Army, returned the salute haphazardly, and then glared at his aide-de-camp. With his graying hair, squinty eyes and substantial girth, the General looked a bit like a bulldog seated behind the metal desk, and Edgrove knew his mannerisms were about the same as the breed, as well.

"Report, Captain," he mumbled around a cigar that he might have been chewing on for the extent of the war. The staff of the Big Tray could not collectively remember seeing him without it. Sheets of papers and maps were scattered through the ready room, which doubled as the General's quarters.

"Sir, the Zeeks are on the run. Elements of the 6th and 8th Battalions report scattered activity throughout Metz. They're fighting us, but not the way they used to. G-2 thinks they're broken. Major Eisley is on the horn right now, giving us the play-by-play, if you'd like to listen in, sir."

The General clapped his hands together sharply. "Finally. Fina-fucking-lly! That bastard von Seydlitz and his Spacenoids have run out of steam! Let's go, Edgrove! Time to watch some Zeeks give up the ghost!" With a spryness a man of his age should not possess, Derrick raced out the door. Edgrove ran to catch up, then kept pace with his shorter, more robust commanding officer.

Derrick blasted into the CinC bridge like a hurricane, bellowing for reports. The petty officer announcing his arrival on the bridge never stood a chance, barely catching herself from being bowled over in the General's haste. Edgrove followed in Derrick's wake, trying not to cause a scene. Most of the bridge staff were clustered near the comm officer's station, listening with an intensity that was evidence enough of how tired they'd all become of trying to break the 10th Panzerkaempfer's hold on Fortress Metz. Edgrove edged forward, trying to catch what he could of Major Carson Eisley's report.

Eisley's voice was barely audible through the Minovsky interference, but distinguishable from the sounds of battle and the hiss of static. " . . . estimate company strength still resisting us for control of the city. Enemy forces weakening under artillery bombardment and GM advance. We're going to broadcast---"

The entire bridge crew, including the General, jumped abruptly as what sounded like a shell landed entirely too close to Eisley's position. Everyone held their breaths, wondering if they'd just heard the death of the Major. A coughing sound from the speaker made them all sigh with relief.

"---As I was saying, we're going to try to broadcast the surrender message once more, but we may have to wipe them out to a man. Visibility is---"

"The hell with the visibility!" raged Derrick into the transmitter. "Are they truly broken or not?"

After a hesitation, Eisley's voice spoke again. "Zeon units falling back in all sectors. They cannot break out. We have them, sir."

The entire bridge erupted into cheers, as the tension of the three-month siege broke suddenly and flooded away. The Federation officers and soldiers, all battle-hardened veterans, shook hands and embraced. Some even wept in relief. General Derrick hung his head, a smile forming behind the cigar.

Edgrove just stared out the windows at the smoke plume that was Metz. It was only when Derrick grabbed him by the uniform jacket that he snapped back into the here-and-now.

"I told you, Captain! Once we'd broken them out of those damn forts, they were ours! OURS! The 10th is finished, and with them the Zeeks on Earth! Operation Odessa is a success!" Derrick yelled into his ear over the din.

"Yes, sir!" was all Edgrove could reply with, his shock was still too deep that it was finally over.

"Bring that Zeek Herr General up here, on the double! I want him to hear what it's like to lose a fucking war!" hollered Derrick to the MP near the door. The man immediately left to fetch their prize to the bridge.

The Zeon had turned Metz into a meatgrinder that fed on men, tanks, and mobile suits like a gluttonous demon. Von Mellenthin had proven himself a truly able commander and a viciously devious foe, using the labyrinth of forts around Metz and the terrain that the Lorraine provided to stall the 9th Army into a siege. Six divisions had been broken trying to smash through the pocket, by a force a fraction of their size. His successor, Colonel von Seydlitz, was no less able, and had held off the latest Federation offensive for three days before this moment. The rest of Operation Odessa had proceeded without them, and Operation Star One was beginning to form in space, as Admiral Tianem's fleet began to group near Luna II. Edgrove had never believed in the concept of "soldier-fanatics" until he'd encountered the 10th Panzerkaempfer Division. They were down now, but Edgrove couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if von Mellenthin had been commanding the entirety of the Zeon Mobile Assault Corps.

That was the key to it all. Major General Dietrich von Mellenthin, called the 'Hessian Lion', captured three days ago and currently rotting in a deep, dark cell in the bowels of the Big Tray, under heavy guard and a suicide watch. Edgrove shuddered unconsciously at the thought of the carnage. After all, von Mellenthin had been in command when Luxembourg was razed into a cinder after a month's fighting, devastating the Federation 4th Armored Division when it could not escape the onslaught and chose to fight it out. Nothing remained of Luxembourg except blackened husks of buildings and mass graves, testament to the brutality of the 'Hessian Lion' and his legion of killers. During the war, no Federation force had been able to match him in strategic initiative, and the approach of his personal Gouf, proudly bearing the red-and-white rampant lion of Hessia, signaled the coming of an unbeatable foe. It was not until the Federation had managed to stalemate the 10th Panzerkaempfer at the Pyrenees Mountains near Spain that the war had begun to turn in their favor in Europe. But it had not been an easy victory by far.

Under von Mellenthin, the 10th had cost the Federation thousands of lives and hundreds of tanks, planes, and mobile suits, and even after the destruction of one of its brigades in Paris, they simply would not give up the fight. The 10th, and von Mellenthin, had proven that a land war in Europe was indeed the true face of Hell.

As though he'd just spoken of the devil, there the man was. Flanked by a pair of armed MPs, in a tattered smoke-gray and gold Zeon uniform, rank tabs denoting his rank as a Major General (Rear Admiral if this were any other Zeon unit) of Mobile Infantry, with a reddened bandage over part of his scalp, and obvious contusions on his face that must have come from the application of fists or truncheons. It had taken four RGM-79G GMs to pull down his Gouf, and it had apparently taken the same to subdue its pilot. His hands were bound in front of him with handcuffs, but that did not seem to deter him. Edgrove knew he could have encountered this man on a street anywhere in the universe and known he was a soldier.

Dietrich von Mellenthin was not a broken man, even after three days of ruthless interrogation, near-starvation, and solitary confinement. His blond hair, despite its extremely short length, was matted to his skull, the proud face shrunken and marred from combat and hunger, but his 5'11" frame was ramrod straight, his bearing as precise as his leadership had been. He radiated command from every pore, and Edgrove knew that unlike what he'd been told at Jaburo, not every higher-ranking Zeon was a political appointee or a favorite of the Zavis. This man had been bred for warfare, and he was only 23 years of age. His eyes, very blue with the barest hints of green, scanned the bridge of the Big Tray and everyone within it, calculating. When they passed over Edgrove, the young Federation Captain shivered in anxiety. That a man so young could accomplish what this one had gave some testament to Zeon Daikun's theory of human evolution in space.

Von Mellenthin smiled. He may have been the only Zeon General captured alive in the war, but he was definitely not a broken man.

Eisley was speaking again over the radio, but no one caught what he said. Derrick grabbed the transmitter and hollered "Repeat that, Major!" into it.

Despite the impetus, Eisley yelled even louder. "They're giving up, sir!"

Metz, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


In the center of the city, the last eight Zeon mobile suits stood in a ring, facing the three battalions of RGM-79Gs, supported by Type-61 tanks and standard Federation infantry. Masses of more Federation troops moved through the streets of Metz, sifting through the rubble for Zeon holdouts. Major Carson Eisley, staring at the eight battered Zeon Zakus, had never seen a more beautiful sight. Unable to keep a smile of victory off his face, he raised the transmitter on the loudspeaker of his Type-61 to his face.

"Zeon forces of the 10th Mobile Armored Division," he began, not deigning to call this rabble by the division's true title, "you are surrounded by superior Federation combat units. Throw down your weapons or face annihilation. You have one minute to comply." The loudspeaker projected his voice through the city, to every Zeon suit, and to the Big Tray where General Derrick would hear it via the radio.

A Zaku stepped out of the ring of mobile suits, braving the trigger-happy Federation GMs around him to face Eisley's Type-61. The standard on the Zaku was a ghastly gray specter, hands outstretched as if to grab its foes. The hatch of the Zaku opened, and a man stepped out holding a comm transmitter of his own.

Cuvry, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


The silence on the bridge was almost palpable as Eisley was heard to mutter: "'Mistwraith' Gyar is the one is command. He'll speak for the Zeeks."

Von Mellenthin spoke into the silence, a pleasant baritone that most field commanders tried hard to develop but this man possessed by genetics alone. "Ahh, Juergen. How convenient. I hope your man enjoys surprises."

Metz, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


"This is Major Juergen Gyar of the 147th Recon Battalion, 10th Panzerkaempfer Division," spoke the man, red-haired and tall, with the light of defiance in his eyes. He was the Zeon ace the Federation had nicknamed 'Mistwraith' for his ability to simply appear, kill, and disappear again, and it was well earned. The 147th 'Unseen Hand' Recon Battalion had been responsible for the rapid fall of Berlin, and its record of accomplishment was impressive. "I am in command of the defenders of Metz. State your terms."

Cuvry, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


"No terms," hissed Derrick into the transceiver, facing down von Mellenthin as though to make the younger man quail. "Unconditional surrender is all we're gonna offer the scum."

"Where's von Seydlitz?" mused Edgrove aloud, making heads turn to stare at him.

Von Mellenthin only smiled.

Metz, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


"The Federation demands the unconditional surrender of all combat forces in the city of Metz, and total disarmament of all Zeon forces remaining with the capacity to fight. What is the location of the criminal Reinhardt von Seydlitz?" boomed Eisley's voice across the square.

"Where you can't ask him any questions, Feddie swine," was Gyar's reply. "We find your terms unacceptable, and your manners disgraceful. We choose not to surrender Metz to you, or our mobile suits."

The Federation representative's reply was laced with shock. "Are you insane?? You can't possibly be serious! Give yourselves up, Zeeks, or Metz will be your grave!"

Cuvry, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


"I'm of a mind to give them no quarter at all," steamed Derrick around his cigar, fingers white on the transceiver. "Tell 'em, Eisley."

"You haven't got what it takes, General," said von Mellenthin. "You may just win this battle, but are you prepared to accept the price?"

The teeth around the cigar clenched angrily. "Shut him up," he spat at the MPs. "You're here to watch your Zeek friends cave in, not give commentary."

One of the MPs slapped von Mellenthin across the back of the head, eliciting nothing but a dull whack. The Zeon General straightened his neck and smiled again.

It's almost as though he knows something we don't, thought Edgrove. What could it be?

Metz, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


Gyar's laugh echoed through the rubble around them. "Send out your champion to fight me for Metz, and if he can best me in combat between mobile suits, I'll turn Metz over to you with no further resistance. If your man loses, you withdraw and leave us be. What do you say, Federation subhuman?"

Cuvry, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


Edgrove was sweating. Why was this Zeon ace playing for time? Why wasn't his captive boss concerned? What are they planning?

Eisley's voice was laced with sarcasm. "Believe me, I'd rather kill you myself, but you're living in a dream world, Spaceman. This isn't the Middle Ages, where a single duel solves anything. We have the advantage, we have the firepower, and we have you surrounded. Last chance, surrender or die."

"Just remember, your man said it first. I didn't," pointed out von Mellenthin, gesturing towards the comm panel.

"The General said to shut the fuck up." The MP hit him again. Von Mellenthin's smile grew larger, and he held up his bound hands in front of the MP's face. The second MP put a pistol to the back of von Mellenthin's head as the Zeon reached for the first MP and placed his hands on the man's uniform jacket.

Metz, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


Gyar did not immediately respond. Instead, he ducked into the Zaku's cockpit and toggled the frequency for the unit "push", the channel the Zeon suits would hear. "This is it, men. Do just what I told you, and what you've been prepared for. They'll never let us leave alive, so if we're going to Valhalla, we'd might as well have some more Feddie slaves to kill over and over again when we get there, eh?"

The voice of another Zeon soldier, one of the 147th's, spoke through the comm. "It has been an honor to serve the Motherland with you, Major Gyar." His voice was seconded and thirded by every Zeon present, even those who had only been with him for these few hours. Gyar's face went grim before he exited the Zaku for the final time.

Cuvry, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


"The Zeeks are coming out of their suits," reported Eisley to the Big Tray. "We'll take them into custody once they hit the dirt. I'll bring them to you in chains, General."

"Well done, Major." Derrick's face was alight with an emotion akin to glee, along with most everyone else's on the command bridge.

Then why are my hands sweating? thought Edgrove, wiping his palms on his khaki uniform pants.

The MP did not pull the trigger on his pistol, though his finger trembled on the tiny firing lever. Von Mellenthin withdrew his hands from the first MP's jacket front, holding a pair of standard-issue sunglasses. With as much of a flourish as he could manage with both hands tied together, he flicked open the sunglasses and placed them on his nose. He continued to smile, the shades masking whatever his eyes may have told. The MP chose not to retrieve his property. That could be done later.

"Wait . . .it looks like they're not done talking yet."

Metz, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


"Our answer remains 'no', Federation lackey. You will not recover Metz from us, nor will we surrender to your corrupt rule. That is our final response. What say you?" proclaimed Gyar, his heart filled with more peace and pride than he had ever felt before. His right hand held the transceiver unit. His left fist held a group of cables that led into the rear of the Zaku's cockpit. The same held true for the rest of the Zeon pilots.

The GMs surrounding the Zeon suits seemed to shrink back, their guns lowering slightly at the words of the Zeon ace.

"I say you are mad, and you're about to die for nothing," came the reply from the Federation.

"For nothing? That is why you will lose this war, Earthenoid."

Gyar and the rest of the Zeon pilots stood on the hatchplates of their Zakus, facing their tormentors. Gyar's left hand shot into the air, fist clenched, the cables running behind him pulling taut, then giving with a snap. They dangled at his feet, as he raised his eyes to the gray sky. The rest of the Zeon pilots mimicked his actions, their cables pulling loose from the innards of their Zakus.

In unison, they began to speak to the Federation soldiers gathered around them. Their words, transmitted over the loudspeakers, reached every living person in Metz.

"Who stands still, goes backward; who rests on laurels, which he has not harvested, lies only on a prettier bearskin; only he who wants to do more than what has been done already, will do what he can do. In the darkness without end, only those who are worthy will become more than what they are. The false light of Earth will be cast off, and the true light of the universe will illuminate Space. Then, we will truly be free!"

Cuvry, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


"What's happening, Major?" shouted Derrick into the transceiver. "Report!"

"Gyar's right, you know," said von Mellenthin to the entire bridge. "You may win this battle, but Zeon will not lose the war."

The MPs did not strike him, nor did General Derrick respond. Von Mellenthin continued. "In space, you will see the true spirit of the Zeon people, and none of you will ever doubt our convictions again."

Metz, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


As the Zeon spoke their mantra, one of the RGM-79Gs that had not been covering the remaining Zeon finished its sweep of the surrounding avenue and turned its head towards the cluster of tanks and suits forming the iron wall around the last of the 10th Panzerkaempfer Division. This particular GM's camera had been switched to infra-red vision (to scan the rubble for human body heat) before that moment, and it's pilot blinked three times to make certain that he was seeing what was being shown in his camera's screen. Then, he smashed a hand on the TRANSMIT toggle on his comm.

Cuvry, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


Derrick spun around to face von Mellenthin again. "You Spacemen talk some talk, but if you were so bad-ass, why'd you get kicked off the planet? Why the hell are you standing there as my prisoner? Answer that, 'Hessian Lion', or should we call you 'Butcher of Luxembourg'?"

The smile fell off of von Mellenthin's face, but his tone of voice went from conversationally pleasing to ice-cold. "You fear me and my men because we have cost you so much here on Earth. More powerful people than myself await you in space. If you thought you had a chance to defeat we Zeon on Terra, why did it take you an entire Army Group to eliminate one understrength brigade? Why did you lose six divisions trying to dislodge us from one location? Now imagine what it will be like in space, where we hold the supply lines and you do not. You will lose the war, General, and Terra will pay for its crimes against evolution." Then he smiled again.

Derrick turned away with a snort of derision.

Edgrove was listening to Gyar's words intently when the tactical officer tapped him on the shoulder and motioned for him to step away from the comm panel. Reluctantly, he complied.

"Sir, sorry to disturb you, but I'm getting a direct report from one of 6th Battalion's GMs. He says the Zeek suits are glowing."

"'Glowing'?" Edgrove was confused.

"Sir, he's rigged for IR sweeps. The Zeon suits are running very hot."

"Have you got a visual stream?" asked Edgrove. "Show me."

'Running very hot' was an understatement. The Zakus were glowing white, and getting brighter as Edgrove watched.

"Got a cigarette?" asked von Mellenthin of his guards. One of the MPs complied, and von Mellenthin placed the thin tube of tobacco between his still-smiling lips.

With a hoarse cry of alarm, Edgrove dove for the comm panel.

Metz, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


"We who tread amongst the stars fear no Earthly demise, for to return to shadows and dust is to return to the darkness from which we came, to rule all things when the light shines upon us all. The light of Humanity is Zeon, and Her dead---"

Five beeps interrupted the mantra, each coming from the computers aboard the Zakus.

"---shall live---"

A harsh whining sound issued forth from the Zakus, and Gyar could not help but smile at the beauty of it all, even as he closed his eyes.

"---forever!"

Cuvry, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


Edgrove plowed his way past the rest of the soldiers hovering near the console and grabbed the transceiver out of Derrick's hand violently.

Von Mellenthin reached out with both hands and took hold of a deck rail.

"What the he---!" was all the Federation General had time to spurt out.

"GET OUT OF THERE!!" shrieked Edgrove into the transceiver at Eisley. "PULL OUT!!"

Metz, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


Eisley's head jerked back at the violence issuing from the speaker. "What in the blue hell is---?"

"SIEG ZEON!!"

Eisley did not fail to see the smile on the face of 'Mistwraith' Gyar before the world went white.

The simultaneous detonation of eight Minovsky reactors, with their safeguards having been manually deactivated, illuminated the spot Metz lay upon with more heat than a 4-megaton nuclear blast, concentrated in a space three kilometers around. For a moment, Metz registered brighter than the launch of Admiral Tianem's fleet from Jaburo.

Cuvry, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079

The concussion reached Cuvry in a matter of milliseconds, knocking everyone, with the notable exception of Dietrich von Mellenthin, in the Big Tray to the floor and ratting every millimeter of the giant land battleship.

Groaning, Edgrove pulled himself up on the comm panel and looked out the armored window at Metz. Then he groaned again, from the depths of his soul.

There was a white ball encompassing the sky, violent and merciless. He knew then that this had been one last trap, one final gambit on the part of the Zeon. Metz would never belong to the Federation, because Metz had ceased to exist, along with almost an entire brigade of Federation GMs, tanks, and infantry. The man responsible stood on their bridge, wearing sunglasses and hardly able to restrain his exuberance at the sight of it.

At the sight, the cigar in General Derrick's mouth slipped from between his lips, and hit the floor. It rolled across the deck plating until von Mellenthin stopped it with a boot. He casually reached down and picked up the cigar, spitting the cigarette out of his mouth and replacing it with General Derrick's habitual stogie. No one dared say a word.

Von Mellenthin looked down at one of the MPs, who was staggering back to his feet, pistol trained on the Zeon General. Von Mellenthin quirked an eyebrow, still grinning. "Got a light?"

Someone began to sob. The MP whipped his pistol across von Mellenthin's face, clubbing the man to the floor in rage. Von Mellenthin spat blood and laughed, the cigar forgotten.
His laughter punctuated the sounds of weeping, and Edgrove knew this war was far from over.

Landau Forest, Lorraine, Western Europe
December 7, 0079


In the ancient forest, moving towards the Schwarzwald and freedom, the mobile suits of the 10th Panzerkaempfer Division shuddered as the Earth beneath them rumbled and quaked at the blast, testament to the death of Juergen Gyar and his company of mobile suits.

Reinhardt von Seydlitz's face did not alter itself, nor did his Gouf falter in the upheaval. Instead, he merely said the words that had formed the basis for the existence of the war he still waged.

Not over by far, Feddies. This is only the beginning. You are still my prey.

"Sieg Zeon."