AUTHOR'S NOTE: Chapter 3 covers Phase 7 of the series, plus additional material drawn in part from the ONA Gundam Seed C.E. 73 Stargazer, dealing with the aftermath and introducing a couple of characters who will be joining the cast. The next few chapters will more closely follow GSD itself, and the following story arc will mark the first true divergence from canon in this particular story, though it probably will retain many elements from the original.
PHASE 03: A Shattered World
All over the world, the fragments of Junius Seven began to hit, as in every nation on Earth evacuations were still under way. The damage to coastal areas in particular was catastrophic as the falling debris caused tidal waves that swept far inland. But in one large residence deep in the heart of the Atlantic Federation, the atmosphere was very different from the panic that gripped the rest of the world.
"Now...this is a complete disaster." Said one elderly man to his peers. There were roughly a dozen of them, dressed in impeccably pressed suits and clustered around a pool table.
-"An unprecedented crisis," agreed a second, "A scenario for Earth's destruction. So much damage done..." Many of them muttered in assent.
-"Everything will be fine." Answered one man, and the muttering stopped. This man was younger than most of the others, with close-cropped, ash-blonde hair and an expression of smug superiority. This man's name was Teivel Jibril, and he was the leader of Blue Cosmos. "I had ordered Phantom Pain to investigate the situation. But now that it has fallen, the time has come to put our plans into action."
-"What do you mean, Jibril?"
-"Durendal in the PLANTs was the one who warned the nations of Earth, and was quick to assert that he was doing everything in his power to prevent a collision. Even now, he has already sent ZAFT forces into many areas for "disaster relief". But how did this crisis take place? And why? The entire world is asking those questions, and we will provide them the answers. Who's to blame? Why, the Coordinators of course!"
-"That's fine by me," said one of the others, "but given the situation and our probable casualties, we may not have the strength left to fight a war. And it's possible that this was a natural event - an accident." Jibril smiled, his expression becoming even more arrogant.
-"That is the reason I have gathered you here today. You see, Phantom Pain's investigation into the matter yielded some very interesting results." As he spoke, he laid out on the table a spread of photographs, showing ZAFT mobile suits among the remains of Junius Seven, and mobile pods attaching flare motors to the structure.
-"Son of a bitch...so they did cause it!"
-"Indeed. This trump card was unexpected - I was going to put our plans into motion regardless. But this is perfect. Not a single human living on Earth will be able to forgive the Coordinators after seeing these...this time, we'll bring an end to every last one of those bastards. For the preservation of our blue and pure world!"
Far out in the Pacific Ocean, the Minerva's wings unfolded as it stabilized after reentry.
"How are communications and sensors?" Yzak asked.
-"Offline; the fragments are interfering with the radio waves, sir."
-"Then use laser designators or thermal sensors! Just find them!" He replied. "We have no way of knowing whether they made it...but I hope so."
-"Thermal sensors have picked up something; seven o'clock, distance 400. I think..."
-"Get us a visual!" Yzak ordered. Moments later, the display showed the Impulse, carrying the charred remains of the Murasame.
-"Looks like they're both okay!" Bart exclaimed. "Okay" was relative - the Impulse was apparently intact, but the Murasame was obviously a complete write-off.
-"Retrieve them immediately." Yzak ordered. Arthur fired a signal flare to indicate the ship's location, and Malik adjusted the ship's position. Moments later, both machines had landed. Cagalli ran from the bridge to the hangar, arriving just as an exhausted Athrun left what remained of his machine. Just then, the ship rocked and they heard, dimly, a sound like thunder.
-"What was that?" Vino asked.
-"Shockwaves from the impact of the first fragments - I'd guess they've just gone all the way around the world." Rey answered evenly. Behind them, Shinn left the cockpit of the Impulse, as the ship decreased altitude and prepared for a water landing. Not long afterwards, the ship floated safely on the surface. Much of the crew went out on the deck. So did Athrun, Cagalli with him.
"Are you all right, Athrun?" She asked, concerned about him.
-"Yeah, everything's fine." He answered vaguely.
-"You really had me worried." Cagalli said, looking at him. After a moment, she continued, "You know, as bad as it was, it could've been a lot worse if it hadn't been for the Minerva, and Yzak's and Dearka's team. I'm sure the people of Earth will be grateful."
-"Shut up, you IDIOT!" Came an angry exclamation from behind them. The cry came from Shinn, who was glaring angrily at Cagalli. "Didn't you understand what was happening up there? Junius Seven didn't fall by some kind of freak accident; it was a deliberate attack, and it was perpetrated by Coordinators!"
-"Shinn!" Rey, standing nearby, interrupted. The dark-haired pilot's words stunned Cagalli. Athrun stepped forward and stood next to and slightly in front of Cagalli, ready to intercede if things got ugly. Shinn ignored the interruption as well as Athrun's movement, and continued. "They were soldiers with a grudge, people who'd lost family during the war! And they dropped it to kill all the Naturals!"
-"I...I know that! But you guys did everything you could to try and stop it!" Cagalli stammered.
-"OF COURSE WE DID!" Shinn roared.
-"But still," Athrun continued, "A lot of fragments fell on Earth. Only a handful of people were responsible, but it doesn't matter. All that anyone will remember is that they were Coordinators. Do you think they'll be quick to forgive - once they learn that?" And with that, Athrun turned and left, heading back inside.
-"Their leader said something before he died." Shinn said, looking at Cagalli. "He said 'The only true path for Coordinators was the one that Patrick Zala had chosen for us.'" That statement was greeted with shock, not just from Cagalli but from everyone within earshot. "You really have no idea what he's going through, do you? I feel pretty sorry for him." And he turned his back on Cagalli, heading, like Athrun, back inside.
Cagalli soon followed, heading for the bridge, where she was met by Yzak.
"Communications are out right now." He said, guessing why she was coming up.
-"I see..." She replied.
-"Still, we're in a pretty bad way, and Orb is the closest nation to our position." He continued. "Plus we can't keep you around forever, to say nothing of the other delegates. We'll complete emergency repairs at sea, and then we're headed for Orb."
-"I appreciate that, Captain. When we get there I'll do everything I can to make sure the Minerva's taken care of, as thanks for your courage and that of your crew...though, I can't really promise you even that much." Slightly crestfallen, she left, returning to her quarters.
With the fall of Junius Seven, many of the coastal areas of the Eurasian and Atlantic Federation had been decimated. Bandar-e-Abbas, once one of the finest military bases in the Gulf of Oman, was nearly leveled as the straight of Hormuz concentrated the cataclysmic waves caused by the fall of one of the fragments in the center of the Arabian Sea. The devastation did not stop there, but swept past the ruined base and decimated every town along the coast from Rhas-al-Khaimah to Al Faw, and even as far inland as Al Basrah. Amidsts the ruins of the base, the few surviving Eurasian military personnel had hastily set up a refugee camp, and reinforcements and supplies had been airlifted from Tehran. Survivors from the towns on the Gulf trickled in, but they were few, and many of them were wounded.
Of the more than a hundred mobile suits that had been at Bandar-e-Abbas, either as part of the base defense or onboard the ships docked there, none remained. Only three linear tanks and a handful of missile trucks were operable.
"God damn...talk about a disaster." The speaker was a tall, barrel-chested man of forty, an ex-tank platoon commander named Edmond Du Clos. Now involved in humanitarian work throughout the world, he had been dispatched to Iran in an effort to aid the military in disaster relief. But as he looked around now, he was overwhelmed.
-"Major!" said a voice, startling him. He turned around and saw the speaker, a twenty-something black kid in military uniform.
-"Hey, it's Corporal Reyes." He said, recognizing one of his men from the old days. During the Bloody Valentine War Edmond had been one of the Alliance's finest tank commanders, but he had retired at the war's end.
-"It's Sergeant now, sir."
-"Don't "sir" me, I'm a civilian now; But hey, when we get done here, I'll buy you a drink, celebrate the promotion."
-"I look forward to it." The younger man answered, as Edmond walked on. He turned to his companion, and began to discuss the situation. "We're doing the best we can, but we're short on food and medical supplies, and ironically enough, drinking water. Any word from Tehran or Riyadh?"
-"Nothing yet," the other, a younger woman Edmond worked with, answered. Suddenly, from the other end of the compound was a sound Edmond knew well, and he knew it meant trouble.
-"What the hell?"
-"What was that explosion?"
Panic erupted, as everyone tried to determine the source of the commotion. Edmond spotted it immediately; looking out across the compound, he saw a single mobile suit - an old ZAFT GINN, heavily armed - firing at the compound. As he watched, a Eurasian Federation helicopter, which had been airlifting wounded too badly injured to care for here and taking them to Tehran, was shot down by the attacker. It exploded. The camp's few operational missile trucks turned and moved towards the enemy to engage, as preparations were made to deploy the linear tanks as well.
-"What is going on - is this war?" Asked one of the military officers in charge of the camp. "Contact Military HQ in Riyadh, find out what's going on!" he ordered.
Meanwhile, the GINN's rampage continued, as it fired indiscriminately at everything in sight including one of the two military hovercrafts that sat offshore, which had brought troops and supplies and now served to coordinate relief efforts. Another attack leveled the building that had served as the refugee camp's command center, severing their communications. Edmond could only hope that they'd got out a mayday in time. Clenching his fists, he turned around, advising his companion that they should evacuate as many as possible to the remaining hovercraft and leave. Then he ran back the way he'd come. A tank stopped, and the kid Reyes hailed him.
"Major! What're you still doing here?"
-"Sorry," Edmond said later, "but you'll have to turn in a written report." He now sat with Reyes in the tank as they headed towards the GINN; far ahead, the missile trucks had engaged, but the machine leaped over their attack and shot them to pieces with its machine gun. Its rampage then continued.
-"No, I don't mind. It's an honor to ride with you again, sir." Reyes answered. "With the command center out of commission, I have to make the most effective decisions on my own." Edmond grinned - the kid knew his stuff.
-"Set firing interval to 0.5 seconds!" He said.
-"Sir, the barrel's never gonna hold that!" Reyes replied, looking concerned.
-"Doesn't matter - we won't get a second chance to fire anyway." Edmond dismissed the protest. "And close in as fast as possible!"
Meanwhile, the other two tanks were already in range and attacking. The first shot hit the GINN, tearing its hand off, and with it the machinegun. The enemy turned towards them.
Again the tank fired, and this time impacted the GINN's leg. The machine stumbled as the limb buckled, and hit the ground. At that moment a combat helo - no doubt launched from the hovercraft - attacked from behind, damaging its backpack, which detonated. The GINN stood with difficulty, turned and fired, destroying one of the two tanks. The second fired, and this time the GINN's arm was torn off, but it counterattacked with the bazooka it held in its other arm, destroying the tank. When the combat helo attempted another pass, the GINN fired the missiles it had left in its leg launcher, and the helo was forced to fall back to avoid the attack.
Then it spotted the third tank, closing fast. Edmond knew they'd been made; the GINN turned towards them and leveled its bazooka just as they entered optimal firing range for the linear cannon.
-"Get in closer! As close as possible, or the shot won't pierce the armor!" He ordered.
-"Roger!" came the reply from Reyes. The GINN fired.
-"FIRE!" Edmond yelled, and Reyes pulled the trigger. In less than two seconds, three supersonic slugs shot from the barrel, which overheated and blew.
One shot hit the damaged leg, bringing down the GINN for good, and the other two hit the cockpit. The big slugs ripped apart the pilot and exited out the damaged back of the mobile suit, slamming into the ruins of a damaged building behind it. At the same instant the GINN's single rocket hit the tank, flipping it and tearing it open.
Over the radio, Edmond heard the hovercraft order the helo in to finish it off - not that it needed to. Then came the panicked alert - still more mobile suits incoming, and fast. He glanced over at Reyes - the poor kid was dead, and all for nothing. Then, in the growing light of pre-dawn, he saw something - a fast-moving speck in the sky. He recognized it, and smiled as he closed his eyes for the final time.
However, the battle was not over yet. ZAFT TMF/A-802/W2 Kerberos BuCUEs and TFA-4DE GAZuOOTs rolled into the camp from the south. These were enhanced versions of the older BuCUEs and ZuOOT mobile suits first fielded in CE71, with improved performance and equipped with beam weapons. Immediately they began to open fire, leveling those few buildings still left standing.
"DAMN IT! That first GINN was nothing but a decoy! Those bastards won't stop until they've slaughtered every man, woman and child here!" The hovercraft's commander raged. The camp had housed thousands of refugees from all around the coast, many of them injured; and their only remaining military resources were one combat helicopter; they were defenseless.
-"Last word from HQ in Riyadh was that these were isolated terrorists, followers of Patrick Zala; They said reinforcements were inbound from Gibraltar."
-"Bullshit! Even if they're sending anyone, they won't get there in time."
-"New airborne contact, closing fast from the west!"
With no heavy weapons or mobile suits, the base's infantry were attempting to hold back the enemy with conventional artillery, to little effect. Suddenly, one of the BuCUEs exploded, and one of the men looked up.
"Reinforcements are here!" He saw three silhouettes, approaching fast from above.
-"Only three?" said one of his comrades. "What good'll that do?"
-"No, look! Those Daggers - look at their colors!" the first soldier replied, a relieved expression on his face.
Two GAT-02L2 Dagger-Ls landed; one was equipped with the AQM/E-M2K Sword Striker, an improved version of the original Sword Striker. The second had the AQM/E-M3K Launcher Striker Striker, a similarly improved version of the Launcher Striker. Developed by Eurasian arms manufacturer Aktaion Industries, these weapons packs were used only by the Eurasian Federation military. Far above, the aircraft that had carried them continued on its course as the third machine made its way under its own power. All three mobile suits were jet-black.
-"They're...they're black! It's the Five-O-First!" The 501st Autonomous Corps of the Eurasian Federation Armed Forces were legendary: they were the absolute élite, a Special Operations unit akin to the Atlantic Federation's 81st Independent Mobile Battalion.
As the first two machines engaged the ZAFT mobile suits on the ground, the third machine attacked from the air; This was not a Dagger, but a sleeker, more powerful mobile suit; a GAT-04 Windam, equipped, unlike its teammates, for aerial combat. From its flight pack, four cannons protruded menacingly to either side of its head, and a sword hilt peeked out from below each arm. Its shield held a single gatling gun which it fired, riddling a GaZuOOT with bullets before drawing its swords as it landed.
When the BuCUEs attacked, he eviscerated first one, then the other.
-"Geez," complained the pilot of the Launcher Dagger complained as he targeted one of the other BuCUEs with his 32cm hyper-impulse cannon. "Showoff. You think he'd leave some for the rest of us." His name was Shams Couza, a twenty-one-year old Sri Lankan Second Lieutenant. Brash and arrogant, Shams's temper frequently brought him at odds with his CO, the taciturn Major Sven Cal Bayan. Twenty-two years old, the German-born Sven was literally unshakeable; Shams had never seen him lose his cool or raise his voice.
For his part, Shams got along better with the third member of their team, the attractive First Lieutenant Mudie Holcroft. The sharp, cynical Mudie, at twenty, was the youngest member of the team, and specialized in close-quarters combat; A BuCUE engaged her Dagger and she jumped up, landing on its back.
-"It's like my teacher used to say: The only good Coordinator," she said as she drove her "Schwert Gewehr II" anti-ship beam sword vertically in through its back just behind the neck, where she knew that, on the BuCUE's belly, the cockpit was positioned, "is a dead Coordinator."
She leaped off, then as she landed, cut loose with the Dagger-L's beam carbine at a GaZuOOT, which exploded. She spotted a GINN next, drawing its sword and charging their leader.
-"Sven!" Mudie hailed over the radio. She got his attention, and he spotted the incoming MS. Without a word, the pilot turned to face the new enemy, tilting his blade horizontally as he used the Windam IWSP's thrusters to slide sideways and shoot forward; though lacking a beam, the sharp blade bisected the GINN's waist, and the remains fell and exploded.
A shot from a Kerberos BuCUE impacted the blade and severed it. Sven tossed the useless hilt aside as he leapt over the enemy unit's follow-up attack, then he took down the BuCUE with a pair of beam cannon shots into its back. Alarms sounded as their screens showed more incoming enemy units.
-"Man, these guys are persistent." Mudie mumbled, sounding irritated as she fired at the incoming machines. "I'm getting tired of it."
The course of the battle had separated her and Shams from Sven, who was at the moment engaging a second team of BuCUEs that had come in from the southwest. She withdrew from their hip storage compartments the Dagger-L's two anti-armor penetrators and threw them; the two small weapons found their targets, one embedding itself in a BuCUE's eye, the other stabbing the second in the weak joint at the base of its neck; then the explosive knives detonated, destroying their targets.
-"Maybe they're all just looking for a good time with you, Mudie." Shams commented sarcastically as he cut loose, this time with the shell-firing "Todesblock Kai" plasma-sabot cannon, which obliterated a GINN that was targeting Mudie's machine.
His second's inattention would prove fatal, as more BuCUEs charged towards his position. Shams fired his 6-tube missile launcher, destroying one that was charging at him. But another BuCUEs came at him from behind, sabers ignited.
Too late he turned to counter, and the attack severed his Dagger's arm at the elbow, taking the Agni with it; He drew the carbine with his remaining hand and fired, but it avoided his attack, and its beam cannons next neatly shot his right leg out from under him.
-"Shams!" Mudie yelled. She turned on the BuCUE that'd attacked him and fired her carbine, blasting off the beam cannons from its back. But a GINN that had closed in attacked her next.
"Oh shit. This is bad..." She muttered. In the instant it took for Mudie to destroy it with a carbine shot to the cockpit, three Kerberos BuCUEs had swarmed Shams.
-"Hold on...what the..!" Shams explained as the BuCUEs attacked. He brought his carbine to bear, but it was too late; The Kerberos BuCUE was equipped with two short, downward-facing beam "fangs", and one of the three drove its head down onto the Dagger's torso, piercing it and incinerating his arm.
-"SHAMS!" Mudie screamed, enraged. The three BuCUEs were literally mauling the Launcher Dagger, slamming their beam blade-equipped heads repeatedly into its torso. Not far away, Sven turned and saw; What was worse, two more BuCUEs were closing in on Mudie as well. He took flight and shot towards the Kerberos BuCUEs, firing his Windam IWSP's railguns and beam cannons.
Sven's Windam IWSP had one of his two swords left. He shot upwards as three Kerberos BuCUEs turned towards him and charged, and threw the weapon, which lodged itself in the upper body of one of the BuCUEs, bisecting head and cockpit.
Drawing his beam rifle, he fired at one of the two remaining BuCUEs, while at the same time he raised the Windam IWSP's shield and unleashed its gatling gun; Both enemy units went down, one from the single shot that neatly pierced its cockpit; the other was torn to shreds by the hail of bullets from the gatling gun.
Meanwhile the other two BuCUEs charged Mudie. She leaped nimbly over their attacks, then snapped her Dagger's arms back and fired the two arm-mounted "Panzer Eisen" rocket anchors, which snagged the BuCUEs as they passed by. As she then landed, she pulled the arms together to the front. Both BuCUEs were lifted off their feet and swung in wide arcs that ended only when the two quadruped mobile suits slammed into each other far in front of their erstwhile target.
With no remaining enemy mobile suits, the battle was over.
Ejecting both weapons, Mudie moved towards her fallen comrade as Sven did the same. Both exited their cockpits and looked at the mangled Dagger. Mudie bit her lip, holding back tears. Sven looked down at the fallen Dagger, and to her surprise Mudie saw a single tear roll down his cheek.
Several hours later their ship, the land battleship Compton, arrived. Shams's corpse was removed - his family would be notified. As for Sven and Mudie, they were summoned by the ship's commanding officer, a grizzled Colonel named Rankov, a veteran of the Bloody Valentine War. Once the two pilots stood in his office, still in their flight suits, he congratulated them, then informed them they were being reassigned.
-"I really hate to let you both go; but HQ's orders were that you be detached to the Seventh Pacific Fleet. Your machines are being resupplied and will be airlifted to Petropavlosk - you'll go out with them and meet your ship there."
-"Yes, sir." Sven said flatly. Behind him, Mudie said nothing, but simply nodded. Her eyes were red.
-"Listen," Colonel Rankov added, "I'm really sorry about Shams. He was a good kid." Neither of them said anything - no words were necessary. Nonetheless, both Sven and Mudie knew the Colonel meant what he said, and they appreciated it. They turned on their heels and left. "Good luck." he added, as the door slid closed
Not long afterwards, they were airborne. Sven and Mudie were alone in the massive aircraft's cabin.
-"I don't know how you can be so calm." Mudie commented icily as she looked at him. "Looking like you don't give a damn, even though..." Sven looked at her, but didn't say anything; He wasn't sure what to say.
"Well...it's like I told you my teacher used to say," she continued, "and I for one intend to see every last one of the bastards dead." She'd get her chance too, he knew. With the assignment they'd been given - the target they'd been sent after - he knew they'd both get the chance to engage ZAFT.
...After all, that was their job.