AUTHOR'S NOTE: Okay, so this chapter parallels Episode 38, which brings us to the battle of Heaven's Base. There are going to be some changes here, obviously, but the general sequence of events will be mostly the same.
PHASE 26: Hellfire of Destiny
Iceland, Atlantic Federation
The waters around Heaven's Base.
The most heavily defended base in the Atlantic Federation sat deep in a wide fjord on the southern coast of Iceland. There, docking facilities for dozens of ships, hangar facilities for hundreds of mobile suits, and far more gave the base a combat strength unparalleled anywhere on Earth - even greater now than that of JOSH-A, the former headquarters of the Alliance, in Alaska.
Outside the fjord, the water seemed to be covered with military vessels, as the largest military fleet assembled in the history of mankind gathered just outside the base's striking range. Carriers, surface vessels, submarines and support craft from the PLANTs, the USSA, the Eurasian Federation were assembled. Even a small number of carriers and support vessels from the Atlantic Federation were present.
From Carpentaria and Gibraltar, more than fifty Vosgolov-class submarines plus almost an equal number of Lesseps- and Petrie-class vessels; From the combined nations of the Alliance, a grand total of sixteen Spengler-class carriers, each sailing with roughly a half-dozen surface escorts and between one and three fast-attack submarines - the largest naval combat force ever assembled. Never in living memory had such a massive force ever set out to sea, and never before had the PLANTs and Earth undertaken such a joint deployment.
The fleet's orders were simple, and once the blockade was complete, an ultimatum was broadcast to Heaven's Base by Ezalia from the Minerva.
"We, the combined fleet of the Alliance and ZAFT, do hereby make the following demands of the forces garrisoned at Alliance Supreme General Headquarters Heaven's Base: One, all forces currently occupying the base are to disarm and stand down. Two, all members of Logos previously identified as such are to be turned over immediately; You have six hours to comply. If no response is received, then we will attack, and seize the base by force."
Upon hearing the ultimatum, Jibril scoffed. "Durendal's lackeys warn us, and then wait for our response? Those fools must be feeling pretty good about themselves."
- "But are we sufficiently protected here, Jibril?" Azrael demanded.
- "Protected?" Jibril replied mockingly. "We are going to launch an all-out attack, right here and now! Durendal has misled the ignorant masses, saying to them that once we are ended, then the world will be at peace. But we know that this is a lie."
- "You have a point," said one of the others, "even if they do destroy us, they will simply take our place."
- "Let Durendal keep his delusions for now. We will shatter them soon enough. We will destroy him, once and for all, before this world can belong to him and the damn Coordinators." Jibril added.
Preparations were well under way - their forces were ready and in position. Their trump card, the Nibelung, would be ready and being supplied power within thirty minutes.
They would seize the initiative and crush the Coordinators and their deluded allies for good.
3 hours to deadline
"Still no response from Heaven's Base, sir." Abby Windsor reported. "Three hours until the deadline."
Yzak was glowering. He wasn't surprised, nor did he expect anything else, which is why he had placed all of his pilots on standby for immediate take-off. He had ordered the other ships to do likewise. So it was that he was not completely unprepared when, all of a sudden, Bart Heim at the ship's sensors reported that the enemy had opened fire.
Immediately, he also reported numerous launch transients - mobile suits and mobile armors.
"Incoming mobile suits and mobile armors from the air and the water. They're attacking, sir."
- "All forces, prepare to launch immediately!" Yzak ordered. At the same time, the Alliance carriers began to pull back as they deployed their mobile suits, the escort ships moving ahead and providing cover fire. At the same time, the ZAFT submarines likewise launched their own machines. Onboard the Minerva, Yzak turned to Bart, at the sensors. "What are we looking at, Bart?"
- "GAT-707E Forbidden Vortex teams coming in from underwater. Also detecting numerous airborne GAT-01A2 Daggers. I also show two YMAF-X6BD Zamza-Zah, two YMAG-X7F Gells-Ghe and large numbers of unknown mobile armors...and...we're confirming one GFAS-X1 Destroy!"
- "Another one?" Arthur exclaimed.
- "FUCK!" Yzak swore. "Contact Shinn and Athrun. Tell them their orders are to focus on the Destroy. Prep a Blaze Wizard and a Falx for my DOM, and get it prepped for launch. Arthur, you take the conn."
- "Right." Abby replied, and the message was relayed, even as Arthur acknowledged his own orders and Yzak left the bridge.
The enemy mobile suits were all Daggers, with some Windams. However, in addition to five powerful units, the Atlantic Federation had rolled out their new mass-production mobile armor, the TS/MA-5B Euclid, developed in secret from the Gells Ghe and Zamza-Zah, and designed to be superior to any mobile suit currently fielded by any other nation.
At that moment, the Destroy opened fire, and the incoming mobile weapons likewise attacked. The front line of vessels were decimated by fire from the Destroy's "Aupfrall Dreizehn" and "Super Scylla" cannons as well as the "Gamzatov" cannons of the four Zamza-Zahs.
Underwater, the enemy mobile suits closed in, and the first wave of GOOhN and ZnO were devastated by the superior Forbidden series.
In the air, the GOUF Igniteds and Aile and Jet Windams of the Eurasian and ZAFT forces could easily outmatch the Daggers, however the withering aerial attack strength of the Destroy caused devastating losses.
In orbit, meanwhile numerous ZAFT orbital drop ships were in position. As soon as the attack began, the word went out to them.
"Operation Ragnarök is now in effect. Descent teams, begin deployment." Instantly, a first wave of orbital reinforcements began to fall. And inside Heaven's Base, they were detected immediately.
"ZAFT descent pods incoming from directly above." The Heaven's Base monitoring station personnel reported.
- "Prepare to fire Nibelung." The base commander ordered, as Jibril watched from above, smirking arrogantly.
- "Condemnations and ideals are fine, but they mean nothing unless you win." He mused with a satisfied smirk. "The winner takes all - it has always been that way. And it will be we who will win."
Behind the base, massive shutters, designed to mimic the appearance of the terrain, slid open, and the giant wide-range anti-air cannon "Nibelung" was deployed. A refinement of the Cyclops System, it directed its energy in abroad, upwards-facing conical beam, which allowed it to take out massive numbers of aerial units in a single shot.
Its preparations complete, the cannon fired, and the descending ZAFT forces were all obliterated.
Onboard the Minerva, Arthur was appalled as he relayed the communication to Yzak, who swore angrily. "What the hell have the bastards built here?" He commented, barely keeping his temper in check. He hadn't bothered to put on a normal suit - he hadn't had the time. He opened a link to Athrun.
"Captain, we're ready. Just give us the order." Athrun said, only slightly surprised that Yzak himself was contacting him from the cockpit of his own mobile suit. "We have to do this."
- "You're goddamn right we do." Yzak replied. "Destiny, Impulse: The three of you are to focus on the Destroy. Keep that motherfucker from attacking our lines, and take it down."
- "Roger that." Came the reply from Shinn, a simmering anger in his voice. The other two, piloting Impulse Gundam Units 1 and 2, replied likewise.
- "Athrun, you and I will link up with the Alliance Forces and deal with the four mobile armors." Yzak continued, and Athrun acknowledged. Then Yzak gave Arthur his orders. "The ship is to begin long-range tactical bombardment of the base itself using the Fafnirs and Tannhäuser. Tell the Alliance fleet to do the same."
In the hangar, the Destiny and the Knight Saviour were first in line for launch, and both were moved into the port and starboard catapults. In his cockpit, Shinn was seething at the thought that a second one of those monster mobile armors was out there.
'The people who do these things...Logos...damn bastards. We can't allow them to keep doing this.' He thought angrily. This time, there would be no mercy. He heard Abby's voice over the comms.
- "Activation of all systems confirmed, launch sequence initiated. Hatch open for catapults 1 and 2. Linear launch system engaged. Catapult online, power levels normal. Course clear. Destiny and Knight Saviour, cleared for launch."
- "Shinn Asuka. Destiny Gundam, LAUNCHING!" He said as he got the all-clear, and the Destiny shot forward on the ship's catapult, rifle in hand. At the same time, the Knight Saviour shot forward as well, immediately switching to its high-speed, aircraft-like flight mode.
The Destiny's wings spread, and the advanced propulsion system "Voilure Lumière" that was built into those wings was activated, great fields like wings of pure light spreading from each side, and the dark-blue machine shot forward at an acceleration that slammed Shinn back in his seat.
The Knight Saviour didn't have the Destiny's high maneuverability, but its top-end speed was higher overall, and its acceleration, due to a combination of conventional thrusters and a set of lightwave-thrusters - a less sophisticated version of the Voilure Lumière - was just as high in flight mode.
The two machines shot forward, moving in toward the battlefield as, behind them, the Minerva's mobile suit teams continued launching.
- "Core Splendor 1, you are now clear for launch."
- "Lunamaria Hawke! Core Splendor 1, taking off!" Lunamaria replied, as the tiny little aircraft shot forward from the central catapult, followed by the Chest and Leg Flyers, then the Blast Silhouette Flyer. With the Destiny and Knight Saviour out in front, the four separate flyers combined, and the Blast Impulse began to move, following them at roughly ground level, hovering over the surface. From the port and starboard main catapults, two dark-green DOM Troopers followed, as a second Core Splendor was raised into launch position.
- "Core Splendor 2, clear for launch."
- "Roger that." Came the reply from Stella Loussier, the pilot of Impulse Gundam Unit 2. "Stella Loussier, Core Splendor, launching."
Just as before, a Chest Flyer, then a Leg Flyer followed, and the two components docked together to form the Impulse Gundam, as a Storm Silhouette followed, and the blood-red and black Storm Impulse Gundam shot forward, moving up and sliding into formation opposite the Knight Saviour, on the Destiny's starboard wing.
Beneath them, Yzak's two-tone blue DOM Trooper had launched, equipped with a Blaze Wizard, and carrying the long-handled twin beam axe that had been his weapon of choice when he'd piloted a ZAKU. Its Gigaplex dual launcher was docked on the machine's rear waist. The first of the ship's seven GOUF Igniteds launched as well, and as the three DOMs and the Blast Impulse formed up and followed their airborne comrades, the ship's catapult deployed the remaining six, two at a time, and the eleven-unit-strong formation followed the three airborne Gundams in towards the battlefield
With all mobile suits deployed, the formation split up. With Shinn in the lead, the two Impulses and two of of the ship's GOUF Igniteds made a beeline for the Destroy, while the remaining five GOUFs and the three DOMs, as well as Athrun's Knight Saviour, turned their attention on the four smaller mobile armors.
At that instant, the Minerva launched four MMI-M382G2 "Fafnir-G" long-range land-attack cruise missiles towards the base, while the long formation of San Francisco-class attack submarines that, along with their Vosgolovs, formed the second line of defense fired their own cruise missiles, and the other ships followed up with more conventional anti-ship and land-attack missiles, targeting the enemy naval formations and shore defenses. The much faster cruise missiles each struck their targets, moving too fast to be intercepted and causing massive damage, and while shore- and ship-based interception systems caught a fair number of the incoming projectiles, the barrage was sufficient to cripple the enemy offensive.
As the Destiny and the two Impulse Gundams closed in, they were suddenly engaged by enemy mobile suits. The five units - three Gundams and two GOUF Ignited - scattered, but one of the GOUFs was caught in a crossfire by two enemy units and shot down.
Swearing angrily, Shinn cut them down with the Destiny's rifle, before deploying the two massively powerful 180mm "Megálos Kerberos" High-energy Long-range Plasma Beam Cannons, which he fired into the formation, obliterating three more mobile suits. Two remained, one of which dodged an attack from Shinn's Destiny and succeeded in closing into mêlée range. Beam saber drawn, the enemy Dagger aimed a cross-ways slash that, if it connected, would sever the Destiny from shoulder to hip.
But the Dagger was too slow, and even as he docked the cannons Shinn brought up the Destiny's arm, beam shield ignited. He parried the blade, and literally swatted it aside, throwing the enemy pilot off for a split second, in which Shinn counterattacked with a vicious kick across the enemy machine's torso, a move that had served him well in the past. The Destiny, however, had one thing the Impulse did not: The MR-Q17X "Gryphon II" Leg Beam Blades, generated from a pair of emitters at the top of the knee and tip of the foot for each leg. So this time, when the blow connected, the Dagger was split open, the blade slicing the pilot in half as it cut through its cockpit.
The Destiny immediately fell back, as a missile barrage from the Storm Silhouette's wing-mounted launchers obliterated the remaining enemy Daggers.
More mobile suits closed in, but from below Luna's Blast Impulse fired its own weapons, while the remaining GOUF Ignited did likewise from the air, catching them in a crossfire much as the previous enemy formation had done only moments earlier. Unable to ascend, the enemy formation broke laterally...where Shinn was waiting.
He drew one of the Destiny's two "Shining Edge" beam boomerangs, which also functioned as beam sabers. He closed in on one of the enemy mobile suits, parrying its attack easily, and cut it in half with the "Beagalltach" beam blade mounted to his shield.
Alarms rang in his cockpit, and he turned just as an enemy Dagger fired at the Destiny from behind. Shinn dodged the the attack easily, before a rifle shot from the Storm Impulse killed the Dagger's pilot, and the machine fell.
- "Thank you." Shinn said gratefully, though some apprehension showed in his tone. He didn't want her to be here. But weeks before, she had said that if he was to fight, then she would fight too. At his side.
And so, whenever he could, he had coached her, teaching her how to use the Impulse, drawing from his own experiences. He focused on the Storm Impulse, because he knew it best suited Stella's combat style, just as it best suited his own. Lunamaria, too, he spent time with - she had favored the Blast Impulse for its heavy firepower, which played to her own specialty as a long-range bombardment specialist.
And now, Shinn reflected, other than perhaps his late friend Rey, or else Athrun, there was no one he would rather have watching his back than these two. And he would watch their backs as well.
The three Gundams and the GOUF continued towards the Destroy, when one of the new Euclid mobile armors attacked, firing at the Impulse from behind and below.
The Storm Impulse dove for the deck, shield held forward, and blocked the attack, then countered immediately.
"Be careful!" Stella warned Luna even as she fired the Storm Impulse's weapons. Predictably, the enemy weapon engaged its positron reflector, which blocked the attack. However, the Impulse was a decoy.
The Destiny had backtracked and maneuvered into position above and behind the mobile armor, and the Moralltach's blade bit deep into the mobile armor's body, cutting it in half.
- "Remember," he broadcast to Luna. "It's just like fighting in space, you have to mind your surroundings."
- "Right." Luna answered exasperatedly, but grateful all the same. She had a feeling these mobile armors were going to be a pain in their ass.
She was right.
At that very moment, a team of Euclid mobile armors was engaging against Yzak and Athrun, preventing them from closing in on the Gells-Ghe that was their current target, with the result that said Gells-Ghe, along with the other and the two Zamza-Zahs, was tearing into the USSA and Eurasian ships that formed the first line of the attacking fleet with near-impunity.
Suddenly, Yzak remembered how Shinn had taken out the Zamza-Zah's reflector outside Orb, and he backed off, forming back up with Athrun.
"We need to try to take these on two on one. Their shield only defends in one direction - a pincer maneuver should allow us to take one out."
"Easier said than done." Athrun replied as he dodged an attack from one of them, then fired the Knight Saviour's four beam cannons.
Predictably, the reflector activated, but Yzak was ready. Though one of his DOMs had sustained damage and they'd lost one of the GOUFs, they still had enough to do what he had in mind. He ordered one of the DOMs to move in from the left and he moved in on the right, and the two of them fired before the enemy unit was able to regroup, the two attacks catching it on both sides, destroying it.
Another one of the mobile armors fired at Yzak. He ignited his DOM's beam shield, blocking the attack, and almost without thinking counterattacked with the Falx beam axe. The enemy reflector engaged, but to Yzak's surprise, the beam blade cut right through it into the mobile armor's main body. He then finished it off at close range with the "Screaming Nimbus" scattering beam cannon.
"Sabers! Beam mêlée weapons can cut through that shield. Move into close quarters and take them out that way!" Yzak broadcast to the entire fleet.
At the same moment, a formation of Eurasian Federation Windams was closing in on the second Gells-Ghe, and they heard the announcement.
They acted immediately, two of them opening fire on the Gells-Ghe from long range, forcing it to defend. A third machine looped in from below, sabers drawn, and before the enemy mobile armor's crew could react, had cut through the shield, severing its right arm at the shoulder - and thereby disabling the reflector.
The Gells-Ghe countered with the rifle in its remaining arm, killing the offender, but soon fell under the withering hail of cannonfire from the remaining mobile suits.
"One down, three to go." The team commander broadcast. "Cost us one of our own, though."
- "I'm sorry to hear that. But thank you." Athrun replied, and he immediately moved in. However, he had the advantage of the Knight Saviour's massive speed, and he fired the machine's entire arsenal at the Gells-Ghe, which blocked with its reflector. He then accelerated, drawing the two "Vajra Kai" High-output Long Beam Sabers, and drove them into and through the reflector, impaling the receptors on the shoulders and destroying both arms, before he then fired the "Amfortas Kai" cannons point-blank into the mobile armor's main body.
"That's two!" He replied.
- "Athrun!" Yzak replied. "Take the GOUF team and deal with one of the Zamza-Zahs, then link up with lover-boy and back him up! I'll take care of this one."
- "Right." Athrun replied, and while the three DOMs moved in on one of the Zamza-Zahs, he took two of the GOUF Igniteds, ordering the three others to remain and cover the DOM Team, and headed towards one of the two green mobile armors.
Linking up with a team of Eurasian Windams, Yzak and the remaining GOUF Igniteds moved in on the other Zamza-Zah, which opened fire on them with its plasma cannons. The airborne formation scattered, but one of the GOUF Igniteds was unable to evade, and was destroyed by a shot from the mobile armor.
"Bastard." Yzak fumed. "You're gonna pay for that."
The DOM Troopers were on the move, too swift for the mobile armor to track with its weapons, while the aerial units fired from above. On the other hand, the Zamza-Zah had decreased its altitude, so that it was skimming just above the surface, too low for the DOMs to target its vulnerable underside.
Just then, the formation came under attack from a team of enemy Euclid mobile armors, and before they were able to scatter, another of the GOUFs and two of the Windams were down. An enraged Yzak ignited his beam shield and charged in, weaving nimbly from side to side to prevent the enemy mobile armors from getting a solid lock, and fired on the Euclids, which ignited their positron reflectors. The blue DOM slipped by, then pivoted and fired the Gigaplex, before the nearest Euclid could turn around, and blasted it open, destroying it.
The two remaining GOUF Igniteds had moved in as well, and one of them fired its beam rifle and gunlauncher at the nearest Euclid, which defended, while the second slashed at the mobile armor from the side with the "Slayer Whip" mounted in their forearms, neatly bisecting it.
Despite this, the Euclids were still preventing them from reaching their objective, and Yzak's frustration grew as the Zamza-Zah, free from their attacks, turned its attention once again on the allied ships, its cannons destroying one of the Eurasian destroyers.
- "Minerva!" Yzak ordered. "Activate Tannhäuser. Target the Zamza-Zah."
- "But sir, that mobile armor's..." Arthur started to protest, but Yzak overrode him.
- "JUST DO IT, ASSHOLE!" Yzak barked over the radio, and the XO of the Minerva nodded.
- "Yes, sir." He acknowledged tremulously
The Alliance and ZAFT forces shifted, clearing a line of fire, as the barrel of the Minerva's positron cannon began to glow. Predictably, the Zamza-Zah began to pivot, assuming a vertical position that allowed it to present its back, and therefore its positron reflector, to the Minerva - relying entirely on the Euclids to protect it from attack, a mistake that would prove fatal.
"GOTCHA! Up yours, dumbass!" Yzak spat, as he pulled the trigger, unleashing a volley of missiles from the Blaze Wizard's twin launchers, which streaked in directly towards the vulnerable underside of the mobile armor.
The two GOUF Igniteds and the Windams followed suit, and a withering barrage of beam cannonfire tore into the Zamza-Zah's underside and it exploded, just as the Minerva fired its Tannhäuser.
The mobile armor fell, its reflector inactive, and the cannon ripped into it, obliterating it, the beam blasting past until it slammed into the shore defenses. Several enemy ships, caught in the blast, were also destroyed, as was the small formation of Euclids they had been engaging.
Almost immediately, the Minerva fired off another barrage of missiles into the remaining enemy formations and shore defenses. Though the battle raged on, none of the enemy mobile suits had been able to penetrate far enough to pose a threat either to the Minerva or to the other remaining carriers assembled, just outside the range of most shore-based weapons systems. Only the Destroy's weapons could reach that far, and thus therefore the third line of attack had suffered only minimal losses.
The submarines that formed the first line of assault had sustained losses due to enemy underwater mobile suits, but their own, more numerous underwater forces had rallied and engaged the enemy Forbiddens, halting their advance. Supported by Forbidden Vortex mobile suits from the Eurasian Federation and the handful of Atlantic Federation carriers that formed their coalition, ZAFT's new model ASSH mobile suits, along with a vast number of GOOhN and ZnO that had survived the initial underwater assault, began to overwhelm the Logos forces and their defensive line started to crumble - aided in this by the skill of Jane Houston, who led the attacking forces, and the superior experience of the ZAFT pilots, many of whom were veterans of ZAFT's campaigns on Earth during the Bloody Valentine War.
The enemy had had few submarines, and they had been sunk by either the coalition's mobile suits or by torpedoes from ZAFT's Vosgolov-class and the Alliance Forces' deadly San Francisco-class hunter-killers.
Meanwhile the surface ships of the first two lines had been badly battered and taken heavy losses in the initial attack, but the remaining ships continued to attack, firing their own weapons at the enemy vessels and shore defenses, supported by the swarms of mobile suits from both the Alliance and ZAFT which continued to engage the enemy mobile weapon forces.
Over the base itself, Shinn, Stella and Luna, meanwhile, had reached their target, which immediately deployed its two Gunbarrels and fired an array of missiles from the launchers on its back. Stella, who was of course intimately familiar with the Destroy's combat capabilities, having briefly piloted one herself, dodged the attack easily, and did not waste her energy on a counterattack from long-range. She drew one of the two Caliburn beam swords and, sweeping in from the side, cut the gunbarrel in half.
The GOUF Ignited dodged the attack as well, using its arm-mounted "Draupnir" machineguns to shoot down the missiles headed its way, then fired its own weapons at the Destroy. A futile effort, as the gigantic mobile armor shrugged off the attack.
Shinn ignited the Destiny's right hand-mounted "Solidus Fulgor", positioning himself between the Blast Impulse and the second gunbarrel. He blocked the attack, and immediately moved in, however the Gunbarrel shifted its position and fired again. Lunamaria raised the Impulse's shield defensively in front of her and moved sideways out of the line of fire; however at the same time the Destroy fired its 20 "Nefertem" plasma cannons. Caught in the crossfire, Lunamaria was unable to avoid an attack that shot off the Impulse's left arm, taking with it the beam rifle and damaging the back-mounted "Amfortas" cannon. She was forced to eject it before the weapon detonated.
"YOU BASTARD!" Shinn roared as he saw this. He took a deep, calming breath, drew the two massively powerful "Moralltach" beam swords, and moved in, and as he closed in he felt the same sense of expanded awareness that he so often had felt before.
And yet, it felt different - more focused than it had the previous times. He saw clearly the trajectory of the Gunbarrel as it shifted this time to target the Storm Impulse. He moved immediately and by the time it reached its position he was right there, blade drawn, and he bisected the weapon across its horizontal axis just seconds before it fired.
Suddenly, he realized that a new enemy was in range: A Zamza-Zah mobile armor, which targeted the Storm Impulse. He yelled a warning as the Destiny, wings spread, shot off towards the incoming mobile armor, targeted it with the Destiny's weapons, and fired at the same instant the enemy mobile armor did.
The Storm Impulse shot upwards at the sound of Shinn's voice, but the Zamza-Zah's "Gamzatov" plasma cannon sheared off the Storm Impulse's leg, even as behind him the Destroy opened fire with its own Super Scylla cannons. The Destiny pivoted on its axis, and Shinn ignited the "Validus Fulgor" beam shield, blocking the attack.
Then he saw the Saviour closing in, with a pair of GOUF Igniteds behind him.
- "Stella! Luna! Let's go!" he hailed, and the two damaged Impulse Gundams and the GOUF Ignited formed up on the Destiny, with Lunamaria below and the other two above as they turned to focus on the Destroy. They narrowly avoided another barrage from the "Nefertem" cannons, and when the Destroy's missile launchers fired, the Destiny's and Impulses' CIWS were engaged, intercepting the missiles before they could hit.
The two Impulse Gundams shot upwards over the Destroy, and Shinn, still wielding the Beagalltach, turned the long-bladed weapon on the "Aupfrall Dreizehn" cannon, severing its barrel near the base, while Stella did the same using the Storm Impulse's "Caliburn" swords.
"Now it can't attack the fleet." Shinn stated. This was not strictly true - though the Aupfrall Dreizehn were far and away the Destroy's most dangerous weapon, it still had the Super Scylla triple cannon, as well as its missile launchers. If they wanted to take it out, they had to destroy it.
Athrun and the three GOUFs had caught up and were now engaging the Zamza-Zah, preventing it from attacking the Destiny or Impulse Gundams. But as yet they'd made no headway in getting through its defenses - designed for combat in the air, the Zamza-Zah was significantly more maneuverable and deadly than the Gells-Ghe, which made it much more difficult to eliminate.
The same pincer move they'd used on the other would not work this time.
The Zamza-Zah fired its plasma cannons into the ZAFT formation, which scattered, when suddenly the Blast Impulse fired on the airborne mobile armor from below using its single remaining "Amfortas" cannon, an attack which severed one of its four limbs, stripping it of its weapons on that limb, though she was immediately forced to break off the attack when it countered with one of the others.
That, however, provided the opening Athrun needed, as he ordered the GOUFs to surround the mobile armor and fire.
The three mobile suits split up and moved in, attacking it from in front and above, as well as below to either side, while Athrun pushed the Saviour and shot above the enemy mobile armor, then slipped behind it. The Zamza-Zah's positron reflector shield activated, then flickered out seconds later when, just as Shinn had months before, Athrun shot off the side reflector, disabling the field. This time, he followed it up immediately with a barrage from the "Hyper Fortis" beam guns and "Amfortas Kai" cannons that, combined with the attacks from four other mobile suits, destroyed the Zamza-Zah.
With the enemy destroyed, he ordered the three GOUFs to back up Yzak, while he turned his attention to the was impressed. They'd managed to destroy its back-mounted cannons and both gunbarrels, and even as he came up to Shinn, the kid was preparing to move in for the kill. Shinn relayed his plan to his mentor, who nodded.
"Let's do it." Athrun replied, a hard edge in his voice. The four mobile suits moved out, and the Saviour, Blast Impulse, and Storm Impulse turned on the Destroy and attacked.
From below, Lunamaria fired the Blast Impulse's single remaining cannon directly at its main body, firing just below the "Super Scylla" triple cannon where the cockpit was situated. To either side, the Storm Impulse and Saviour fired their own weapons, also targeting the main body, from above, while Shinn dove for the deck, moving in behind it. He deployed the Destiny's twin "Megálos Kerberos" cannons and fired, targeting its knees.
The combined attacks struck within seconds of each other, and as the knees were almost torn apart by the attack and its cockpit was blasted open, the mobile armor began to collapse.
The four Gundams retreated, forming up and heading back into the fray.
"Amazing..." Arthur commented as, on the view screen, he saw the Destroy go down. "They're just awesome, aren't they?"
- "They are giving it their all." Ezalia said proudly as she watched. "Use this opportunity to reform our lines, and move in."
- "Yes ma'am!" Arthur replied, and he contacted the Jones, acting as flagship of the Alliance forces, and orders went out to the first and second assault lines to regroup, as ZAFT GOOhN, ZnO, and ASSH mobile suits began landing ashore, lending their own firepower to the assault.
Inside Heaven's Base's control room, the consternation was unilateral.
"They've broken through our second line of defense! Enemy mobile suits have begun landing!"
- "Damn it." Bruno Azrael muttered as he saw even the mighty Destroy Gundam fall, as ZAFT and their traitor allies from Eurasia and the British bases began advancing into the base itself.
- "What is this, Jibril? At this rate..."
But when he turned around, Jibril was gone. Taking advantage of the confusion, he had fled, and at that moment, a single San Francisco-class submarine, with Jibril on board, was slipping out through a submerged dock on the far side of the facility, unnoticed by the attacking force.
"How could this happen?" Jibril asked angrily as he contemplated the blow he had just been struck. "Damn that Durendal..." Lukas O'Donnell, nominally in command of the ship, did not reply, but focused on very quietly slipping past the enemy ships - a difficult, but not impossible task as long as they kept the ship's speed below 5 knots, at which it was nearly undetectable. The sub launched, and slowly moved away.
In his seat, Jibril was still fuming. He had to get out. At least, there were still other places he could go, and even without Heaven's Base, they still had both Daedalus and Arzachel on the moon. Theophilus was a concern, but it could be destroyed later - it wasn't a priority.
For now, he just had to escape.
"All units, form up on me!" Athrun broadcast to all mobile suits in range. "Shinn, Stella! We're clearing a path."
- "Right." Shinn and Stella responded simultaneously.
The Destiny, the Storm Impulse, and the Knight Saviour linked up and, with the Destroy and the other major mobile armors eliminated, focused on clearing a path through the new Euclid mobile armors. All three machines fired their weapons directly at approaching mobile armors, which blocked with their positron reflectors, but Shinn and Stella, with Beagalltach and Caliburn drawn, tore into the enemy formation, cutting through the enemy units' shields and bisecting them. Athrun switched the Knight Saviour to flight mode and accelerated, and when an enemy machine fired at the Knight Saviour, he pivoted to avoid the shot, then ignited the machine's wing beam blades, which he used to cut the enemy mobile suit in half.
Behind them, on the ground, Yzak and Luna, along with the two DOM Troopers, followed, firing at enemy mobile suits as they moved in. Also joining up with them were ZAFT mobile suits - ZAKUs and GuAIZ-Rs on Guul subflight lifters, GOUF Igniteds, as well as Alliance Jet Windams and the odd Aile Windam, moving deeper in towards the base itself.
Suddenly, onboard the Minerva, Abby spoke. "Message from the Liwad Team, sir. Enemy headquarters is flying a white flag. Enemy forces are beginning to stand down."
- "Please contact Captain Joule and let him know." Arthur replied.
- "And please ask him to confirm the enemy headquarters' surrender." Ezalia added. "And let's not let our guard down until we have a complete cease-fire and our forces have control of the base."
- "Right, ma'am." Arthur acknowledged, as Abby relayed the message.
- "Shinn, Athrun!" Yzak hailed as soon as he received the Minerva's message. "Got a message from the Minerva says the enemy's flying a white flag. Move in and confirm it!"
- "Roger that." Athrun replied. "Shinn, let's go."
- "Right." The younger pilot replied, and the two machines shot forward towards the enemy main base.
The fact that nobody fired on them seemed to confirm that the enemy had surrendered, but when they reached the forefront unopposed and Athrun saw the white flag flying from the base, he knew it was over. He opened up a radio link and broadcast to the entire fleet.
- "This is Athrun Zala of ZAFT's Joule Team. White flag confirmed - the enemy forces have surrendered. Enemy forces show no sign of further intent to continue combat."
In the cockpit of the Destiny, Shinn let out a sigh of relief. "Finally...it's over."
It did not take long after that for the ZAFT/Alliance coalition to move in and establish control of the base. The remaining Eurasian Federation forces, the few Atlantic Federation forces teams, as well as ZAFT systematically moved through the base, and within a few short hours, Heaven's Base was firmly under their control.
Ezalia Joule herself, accompanied by Yzak and Captain McCaffrey, entered the control room, escorted by armed ZAFT and Eurasian military personnel. There, Bruno Azrael and the members of Logos were arrested. However, Jibril was nowhere to be found.
"What?" Shinn exclaimed when he learned this, upon Yzak's return to the ship. "Jibril's not in there?"
- "No. That cowardly piece of shit seems to have escaped shortly before the base fell. He abandoned the other members of Logos and ran to save his own skin."
- "Damn it." Shinn swore under his breath. Athrun sighed.
- "I guess this isn't going to end so easily as that after all." He said.
"Yes it will." Shinn replied, and there was a hard edge in his voice that Athrun had only rarely heard before. "We're going to find that bastard. And when we do, I'll take him out myself."
Office of Cagalli Yula Athha
Cagalli Yula Athha looked up, a concerned expression on her face, as the door opened and Rondo Mina Sahaku walked in.
Murrue Ramius, Andrew Waltfeld, and her old friend Juri Wu Nien were also in the office.
"Mina." Cagalli asked. "Do you have news?" She asked.
- "I do indeed, Lady Cagalli." Mina answered with her customary formality. "According to the latest report I have from my sources, the battle at Heaven's Base is over. The base has fallen."
- "I see." Cagalli said carefully, her expression neutral. She was still not sure whether this was good news or bad.
- "The members of Logos have been captured by ZAFT and the Alliance Forces. However...this is still unconfirmed, but my sources tell me Jibril himself was not captured."
- "What? He escaped?" Cagalli replied, suddenly worried.
- "He did, apparently." Mina nodded. "I'm still waiting for confirmation. But apparently he deserted the others and made a discrete exit shortly before the base surrendered. Chances are, he headed to Victoria or Panama. Kaohsiung is also a possibility, but less likely given the much longer distance."
- "I hope you're right." Cagalli replied. "Please try to find out more, and if you can to determine where Jibril might have gone."
- "Of course, Lady Cagalli." Mina acquiesced, and with a discrete bow, she turned and left.
What worried her wasn't so much that Jibril had escaped.
Though it was certainly likeliest that he would have fled to Panama, and Victoria was also a possibility, there was a slim chance that he may have chosen to come to Orb instead. She knew that, although they were no longer on the Council, the Seirans retained quite a bit of influence. She simply hoped that they would not go so far as to shelter Jibril.
Because if they had, then it was a certainty that Orb would be attacked next, and she wasn't sure if they could hold off that kind of force...
She would have to hope, and to make what preparations they could, just in case.