AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hitherto, I have drawn a great deal of material for my work from the canon episodes of Seed Destiny, even in cases in which I was making significant changes. From this point forward however, though the general sequence of events will remain the same, the actual specifics of how those events unfold over the next four chapters are going to be drastically different. Hopefully, they are better, as was always my goal with this project. In my opinion, they are. The rest is up to you readers. So dive in, and enjoy!
PHASE 32: Prélude to Revolution
November 20th, C.E. 75
Lunar orbit, above Daedalus Base
Mobile super-carrier Gondwana
With the battle over, what little remained of the Atlantic Federation Space Forces at Daedalus had fled the base, mostly to Arzachel. With Daedalus abandoned, the returning ZAFT Lunar Orbital Fleet moved in and seized control of the base.
Onboard the flagship of the fleet, the giant super-carrier Gondwana, in his cavernous observation chamber located above and slightly aft of the ship's bridge, Chairman Durendal sat in a high-backed chair. An inscrutable expression on his face, he listened as the ship's CO delivered a report as to the condition of the fleet and the results of the battle.
"The losses to our own forces during the attack on the lunar base itself were minimal; other than the damage to the Joule Team ships and the loss of a couple of the Alliance supporting mobile suits, our forces made it out essentially intact. We estimate that no more than 30% of the defending forces were left at the end of the battle, all of which had withdrawn to Arzachel by the time this fleet arrived."
- "It's of little consequence." Durendal said confidently. "We can deal with the remnants later, when and if that becomes necessary."
- "Yes, sir." The captain replied. "Our losses in the relay station battle were somewhat more significant; we lost roughly one-third of our ships and approximately one hundred mobile suits. However, the enemy force was totally destroyed; no survivors. All told, sir, I would say that given the circumstances, we did extremely well."
- "Thank you, Captain." Durendal said. "And I agree - we could scarcely have done much better than we did, given the circumstances."
The officer nodded, then with a salute, left the room.
After some time, Heine Westenfluss, who had led the attacking mobile suit forces at the relay station, entered, freshly showered and dressed in a clean uniform. Trailing a couple of steps behind him was Rey Za Burrel, likewise dressed in uniform.
"Ah, yes. Heine, Rey." Durendal said by way of greeting. "I am glad to see you. You both did extremely well today."
"Thank you, Chairman." Rey said deferentially. "It's unfortunate, though, that Shinn and Athrun aren't here."
"Yes," Durendal acknowledged, "I was rather hoping the Minerva would remain, but given that the ship took damage during the battle, it's understandable that Commander Joule would want to fall back for repairs." Durendal leaned back, a thoughtful expression on his face, then added slowly. "I do think Shinn performed admirably, and would have been a valuable addition to our forces here."
Both Heine and Rey noticed that Durendal had apparently omitted Athrun, but Rey dismissed it instantly; his Legend and Shinn's Destiny were a pair, like matched blades, and they belonged together. Athrun's Knight Saviour couldn't come close to comparing.
- "It is hard to say which of the two was more impressive; Shinn's Destiny or Rey's Legend." Heine commented. "But I suppose the two complement each other nicely, right?"
Durendal nodded. "They do indeed, Heine." The Chairman added. "And the two of them together are instruments that will help to bring about a permanent end to this war."
- "Isn't it over already, sir?" Heine inquired.
- "What do you think?" Durendal asked.
- "Well, the Alliance is pretty well routed on Earth - we've seen to that; and in space, what have they got left? A backwater base that nobody much cares about at L4, and Theophilus and Arzachel here on the moon." Heine said. "Since the Eurasian Federation controls Theophilus and Artemis, really all that's left is Arzachel."
- "Which is itself still a significant threat." Rey countered. "Arzachel alone is more than double the size of Daedalus. And while the Eurasian Federation and the PLANTs currently share a common enemy, we can't discount the possibility they may turn on us."
- "All very true, Rey." Durendal said. "As of right now, however, Heine is correct in that the only worrisome factor to remain is Arzachel."
Both officers nodded in acknowledgement, then Durendal continued.
"So then, things are not yet quite over." He said. "But soon, they will be. Then, our true destiny will become a reality, and there will never again be such a conflict."
Rey and Heine nodded gravely, both of them in agreement with the Chairman's ideals. And both of them determined to help him bring them, and the lasting peace they promised, to fruition.
En route to the PLANT homeland
Even as the three battered ships were moving steadily towards home, the mood inside each one was of feverish activity. Whatever could be done internally to keep the ships in top shape was done, with the expectation that when they arrived, they would be able to get more complete repairs done.
For the crew of the Minerva, this was especially significant, since it would be the first time in its short but eventful life that the ship docked at the PLANT homeland. Many among the crew were looking forward to it, especially since most, if not all of them, had been stationed at Armory One, and had not back been to the PLANTs in nearly two years.
At the moment however, they had something else to occupy their minds, as a shuttle was heading to the Minerva from the Voltaire, carrying the ranking officers of those ships, both of whose names were legendary among the junior crew of the newer vessel.
When the shuttle landed on the hangar deck of the Minerva and Dearka Elsman and Shiho Hahnenfuss disembarked, they found a small welcoming committee waiting for them, but all the same every head in the hangar turned towards them.
The two of them focused their attention however on the small group, and saluted. Yzak, Athrun, and Arthur Trine, the Minerva's XO.
"Shiho Hahnenfuss and Dearka Elsman of the Joule Team, requesting permission to board." Shiho announced formally.
- "Granted." Yzak said just as formally, though Dearka and Athrun, both of whom had known the choleric Yzak for years, discerned just a hint of amusement in his otherwise neutral expression. "Welcome aboard." Yzak went on to briefly introduce the others, and Dearka and Shiho nodded, then moved forward.
The relationship between Yzak and Shiho was an open secret among the crew of the Voltaire and the Rousseau. Once comrades in the Le Creuset Team, then later the first incarnation of the Joule Team in the Second Battle of Jachin Due, the intervening years had seen them become much closer, though both of them had made an effort to hide it. Everyone guessed anyway, but nobody ever talked about it - mainly because to do so risked the ire of the famously volatile-tempered Yzak.
But as the group of officers headed towards the exit, a few sharp-eyed crewmen caught a brief glimpse the two shared, and guessed at it as well. However, they wisely kept their mouths shut.
Yzak, Athrun, Dearka and Shiho entered the ship's rec room, where they found a small number of the other pilots already present. Arthur, at Yzak's orders, had returned to the bridge to take the conn, and the group sat down.
"Right," Yzak said, addressing his pilots. "Everyone listening? These are Dearka Elsman and Shiho Hahnenfuss, from the Voltaire."
Then, he turned to Dearka and Shiho. "These are a couple of my pilots that you might not've met. This is Lunamaria Hawke, who pilots the Blast Impulse Gundam; previously piloted a Gunner ZAKU Warrior."
- "Nice." Dearka commented as he returned Lunamaria's salute. "I still pilot one myself - helluva machine, isn't it?"
- "Yes, sir!" Lunamaria agreed. "It's an honor meeting you both." She added, looking from Dearka to Shiho. The latter, however, glanced from Lunamaria to a dark-haired young man who sat a little further down, next to a wispy, wary-looking young blonde in a green uniform.
Yzak saw where she was looking.
- "The young man sulking over there is Shinn Asuka, who was the Impulse's previous pilot." He said. Shinn saluted wordlessly. "He now pilots the Destiny Gundam."
Shiho nodded, impressed.
- "One of the very newest machine off our assembly lines. Not bad." She commented.
- "Thank you, ma'am." Shinn replied.
- "And who's that, your girlfriend?" Dearka asked Shinn, grinning. Shinn glared at the older man for a moment, but his expression turned back to neutral. 'Well, that struck a nerve.' Dearka thought.
"You'll have to excuse Dearka, Shinn." Shiho commented. "He has a tendency to run his mouth off when he shouldn't."
- "Like someone else I know." Yzak growled, looking pointedly at Shinn, who shrugged, the corners of his mouth upturned in a small smile.
- "He's right, though, in this case." Shinn said, surprising everyone. "This is Stella Loussier. She pilots the Storm Impulse Gundam."
- "Hang on!" Dearka interrupted. "When we fought together back during the Break the World Incident, you guys fielded only one Impulse Gundam. But now you have two?"
- "That was my idea." Athrun replied. "We'd always had a spare Core Splendor, so when the ship was last at Gibraltar, Shinn helped me get a second Impulse unit up and running using it and some of the spare parts we had onboard."
"Athrun and I used the two of them for training at first, but then we got the Knight Saviour and the Destiny. So with two Impulse Gundams, Luna was reassigned to Unit 1, and Stella was assigned to Unit 2."
- "That was around the time of Operation Ragnarok, wasn't it?" Shiho asked, looking at Shinn.
- "Yes, ma'am." Shinn replied cautiously, wary of where the senior officer's line of questioning might be going.
- "And what did Stella pilot previously?" Shiho then asked.
- "She was actually new to the ship." Athrun replied cautiously. "She was assigned to the Minerva around that time."
Shiho was sharp enough to spot a dodge when she heard one. However, she declined to press the issue. If it came to that, she would ask Shinn directly later.
- "Right." Yzak interrupted. "Now that introductions are done with, let's get down to serious business, shall we?"
Athrun was the first to speak at that moment.
- "Right now, the Alliance is split; the Eurasian Federation controls Artemis and Theophilus; the Atlantic Federation has just lost Daedalus, so all they have left in space is Arzachel." He started to say. "Meanwhile, ZAFT controls Daedalus. So the question now is, what will the Atlantic Federation's next move be?"
- "The way I see it, there's two options: They may try to retake Daedalus; or they might try for another hit at the PLANTs directly." Dearka commented.
- "I don't agree." Yzak replied. "Not without first retaking either Daedalus or Theophilus. Otherwise they'd just be leaving themselves open to attack from behind."
- "The thing is," Shiho then said, "Arzachel is by far the largest military installation in space, certainly on the moon. But I don't think they have the manpower to take Daedalus or Theophilus and still be able to attack the PLANTs."
- "I think Shiho's right." Athrun commented pensively. "I think it is much more likely that President Copeland will try to mend the fence with the Eurasian Federation before making any other move in space."
- "Good luck with that." Shinn snorted derisively. "After the Destroy incident, I can't see President Baum being too eager to get too friendly with the Atlantic Federation again."
There was a few seconds' silence as everyone present recalled the gigantic mobile armor that had carved a bloody path of destruction across Eurasia several months earlier, made slightly more awkward by the presence in the room with them of Stella, who had been the mobile armor's pilot.
But she said nothing, only shifted uncomfortably before relaxing at a reassuring glance from Shinn. Neither Shiho nor Dearka knew the truth of this matter, and by common, unspoken consent, neither Yzak nor Athrun said a word about it.
Stella was one of their own now.
- "I think," Athrun said contemplatively, "That Copeland is probably not at fault here, though. I know the Bonaparte was an Atlantic Federation land battleship in classification, and the Destroy is definitely an Atlantic Federation mobile armor. But I think it was a Logos operation, rather."
- "You mean, Copeland may pass the buck to Jibril?" Dearka asked sarcastically. "Typically political, huh?"
- "Honestly, Dearka, are you really that dim?" Yzak asked impatiently, but both men knew he was half-kidding. "What Athrun means is that Copeland was basically Jibril's lackey, so it's likely that Jibril himself ordered the Destroy launched, and Copeland had nothing to do with it. He was basically a Logos puppet anyway."
- "Right. And now with the strings cut and the puppet-master dead, what's he going to do?" Athrun commented. "Look at Orb, for instance."
- "Orb?" Shinn asked. "What about it?"
- "Remember that the Seirans were both killed in Operation Fury." Athrun recalled. Shinn and Yzak both smirked, and Athrun continued. "Since then, the entire house of cards they'd built has crumbled, and their allies have either been driven from office, or switched sides - and that was even before we finally got Jibril."
- "Though Shinn gets credit for finally being the one to nail the bastard." Dearka commented.
- "Isn't a lot of that because Representative Athha's been very proactive about excising them in the first place?" Shiho asked.
- "Yeah." Shinn replied, again surprising Athrun. "Just like Baum in Eurasia."
As Athrun listened, he pondered those words, and he was glad to see that she had really followed in her father's footsteps and become the kind of Leader Uzumi Nara Athha had been; the lion's cub had grown into a fierce lioness in her own right, he thought in a rare poetic moment. Meanwhile, he was still stuck as a soldier of ZAFT. 'Just like Lacus said, years ago.' He thought with a pang of regret, as the memory brought back recollections of what he'd heard from Kira.
- "Absolutely, Shinn." Athrun finally said. "And I think that Baum is going to push Copeland to make similar reforms as part of any peace agreement between them."
- "Then I guess that's pretty much the end of that." Dearka commented.
- "I sure hope so." Athrun said. "But I'm not entirely sure it's over just yet."
Office of the Chief Representative
"So, Jibril is dead? You're sure of this?" Cagalli Yula Athha asked, looking up from the report she was reading to stare across her office at the tall, elegant older woman who served as her military Commander.
- "Absolutely, Lady Cagalli." Rondo Mina Sahaku replied. "He attempted to escape using a Niranjan-class assault carrier, which was intercepted by ZAFT before it had time to escape. I'm told the ZAFT pilot who destroyed the ship had visual confirmation of Jibril's presence on the ship's bridge before he attacked it."
Cagalli slumped back against her chair and let out a sigh of relief. Jibril dead, and between the Eurasian Federation and the PLANTs, plus with the USSA siding against them, the Atlantic Federation backed into a corner, with Logos essentially annihilated.
It seemed like everything was finally coming to an end. And yet...
- "What about that weapon? Has it been destroyed?"
- "The Requiem weapon, milady?" Mina asked, and Cagalli nodded. "As I understand it, the Joule Team destroyed the base command center, including the weapon's control systems. So it can no longer be fired."
Cagalli shook her head.
- "What about those colonies? The relay points it used? Have they been destroyed?" She insisted.
Mina hesitated, as she was starting to see where Cagalli was going.
- "As I understand it, two have been destroyed; one immediately after the first shot, the second during the battle."
- "So four remain." Cagalli replied. "Meaning that theoretically, the thing could be brought back online."
Cagalli stood and stepped away from her desk, towards the enormous bay window behind her.
- "I imagine that Durendal will prioritize the complete destruction of that weapon. Or at least, so I hope." she continued to say. "Because I think that as long as that thing exists, this isn't over. Not yet."
December 7th, C.E. 75
Several weeks passed, while reparations were made to all three ships - the Minerva, Voltaire, and Rousseau. The ships were all also resupplied, as were their mobile suits.
Shinn Asuka and Athrun Zala stood together on the deck, watching the continued activity around them, though as the repairs neared completion it wasn't as feverish as it had been.
Athrun glanced across the base, where he saw an assortment of Nazca-class vessels that were similarly undergoing refit.
- "Been a quiet couple of weeks, hasn't it?" Shinn asked.
- "Yeah, that it has." Athrun replied. Although the crew had been granted shore leave during this brief furlough, neither man had left the base much; having no family in the PLANTs, there was really no place for either of them. Athrun had briefly gone to visit the graves of Nichol, Rusty and Miguel. Yzak and Dearka had gone with him.
- Shinn had stayed at the base, alone or with Stella.
- "I've heard President Copeland has been in talks with President Baum, over the past few weeks." Athrun said. "He's made moves towards mending things with Orb, as well."
- "So we were right." Shinn commented, recalling their conversation a few weeks earlier.
- "I guess we were. Copeland and Baum are meeting at Arzachel, so before long we should know something concrete." Athrun agreed. "Remains to be seen what their next move will be relative to us here in the PLANTs."
At that moment, Athrun saw Yzak walking towards them, looking serious. Behind him was an officer they did not know, in lavender garb, which Athrun recognized as being used only by high-ranking flag officers or by personnel attached to the Supreme Council.
Athrun and Shinn both stood at attention and saluted. Yzak returned the salute, as did the other officer, who then spoke.
"I have here special orders from the PLANT Supreme Council for FAITH Special Forces operative Athrun Zala, currently attached to the assault carrier LHM-BB01 Minerva."
- "That's me." Athrun replied unnecessarily. The other man knew exactly who he was.
- "Here you are, sir." he said, and he left without another word after handing to Athrun a leather-bound folio.
Athrun opened the folio and withdrew a single-page document. Then he gasped.
- "So, what is it?" Yzak asked irritably.
- "It looks like you're going to need to find someone else to command the Minerva's mobile suit team." Athrun said, and handed over the document to Yzak.
- "Personal for Athrun Zala, FAITH Special Forces, Combat Patrol commander LHM-BB01 Minerva. You are hereby ordered to report to the Nazca-class destroyer Argenteuil for duty as its Commanding Officer, effective immediately." Yzak continued to read the document to its end, then looked up irritably, trying hard not to smile. "Congratulations, Commander Zala. Guess you're going to need to get your stuff off my ship. And you're gonna need a new uniform." He said.
He handed over the document to Athrun. And then he did smile, as did Athrun. And the two men shook hands in a way only old friends could.
Space Forces Main Base
Though it was called "Arzachel Base", the enormous facility that served as the headquarters of the Atlantic Federation Space Forces was spread across two craters on the moon - the 96-kilometer-wide Arzachel crater itself, and the 119-kilometer Alphonsus crater to the north.
The base was even larger than that which it had replaced, the enormous base located in the 153-kilometer-wide Ptolemaus crater that had been destroyed during the Second Battle of Jachin Due in CE. 71. It was the single largest military installation on the moon, and one of the largest bases anywhere in the Earth Sphere.
As he arrived at the base, President Baum was skeptical of Copeland's choice of venue for peace negotiations, but accepted that the beleaguered President of the Atlantic Federation had wanted the meeting to occur on his own turf. It did not mean that Baum, who was older and more experienced than Copeland in any case, would allow his opposite number to dictate the terms of the meeting.
Still, the diplomatic exchanges that had gone on these past few weeks between their two nations left Baum optimistic that an amiable solution could be negotiated. Once that was done, the matter of a long-term peaceable solution with the PLANTs could be handled.
- "I'll have to ask Brennan to bring Representative Athha of Orb onboard at that point." Baum mused, remembering the spunky young leader of Orb, and correctly guessing that she would have little trouble twisting the arm of a coward like Copeland - both politically and literally.
In Arzachel's command center, Copeland was fidgeting as the shuttle came in.
Everything seemed to be going well, but suddenly, an alert rang out.
"Sir, we're detecting a high-level energy signature incoming!" One of the officers reported.
Standing next to Copeland, the base commander turned towards him.
- "What? Where's it coming from?" He demanded. The young officer opened his mouth to reply, but it was too late. A massive beam of energy struck Arzachel head on, and the resulting explosion ripped through the base. Copeland, the entire base command staff, and the shuttle carrying President Baum were all incinerated in seconds.
News of the attack soon reached the PLANTs. At Aprilius One, Athrun Zala, immaculately dressed in a new, white uniform, stood on the bridge of his new command, the Nazca-class Argenteuil, and was supervising the loading of mobile suits onboard including the transfer of his own Knight Saviour Gundam from the Minerva.
He hadn't been on the ship for long, but had made it a point to get to know as much of his crew as possible. His Executive Officer, a veteran officer named Kurt Gunn, had been the first he met, and he had introduced the new CO to the rest of the bridge crew; Jo Crocker, at the helm; the CIC, communications, weapons control officers, Aaron Web, Rick Burnett, and Ari Gavron; and the older Ray "Buster" Conway, who was the ship's MS Team Commander.
He had also taken time to meet with Zack Freeburg and Arnie Bergstrom, the commanders of the Jouvenel and the Laurasia-class Gaensler.
But now, Rick Burnett suddenly reported that they were receiving an emergency message direct from Headquarters. "Receiving reports that Arzachel Base attacked and destroyed by long-range tactical beam weapon. Very strong chance Presidents Baum and Copeland were both killed."
Athrun went deathly pale as he heard the message. A sudden dread rose in him, and even as he asked the question, he was afraid he knew the answer.
- "What was the origin of the attack?" he asked. "Does the message say where the attack came from?"
- "Yes, sir." Rick replied slowly. "The far side of the moon."
- "Daedalus." Athrun said somberly, and he swore under his breath; if an attack from Daedalus had leveled Arzachel, that meant that the Requiem cannon was back online. And there was only one possible conclusion, because there was only one man who could possibly have, over the past few weeks, ordered the repair of the cannon's control systems.
'Durendal.' Athrun seethed internally, as he realized now that for months, the Chairman had played them all for fools.
In the aftermath of Daedalus's attack on Arzachel, Cagalli had immediately called Paris, despite the appalling hour of the morning there. She knew Vice-President Marshall was there, and she asked to speak with him. The conversation lasted twenty minutes, after which Cagalli immediately contacted Kaguya.
The Kusanagi had been prepared and standing by, and she knew it could be launched within the hour. She gave the order, then made one other phone call.
An hour later, the ship's central module, equipped with its frontal atmospheric exit unit, was loaded onto the kilometer-long electromagnetic rail of the Mass Driver.
The crew was onboard and making sure everything was ready for the final time.
Inside the ship's cavernous hangar, a full complement of sixteen mobile suits was loaded, along with ammunition and spare parts. The ship would be more crowded than usual because in addition to its own crew and mobile suit, it carried Cagalli's Akatsuki and the three Murasames of the Kinshu Team, which would be transferred to the Izumo once they arrived. It also carried crew for the recently completed Susanoo and Tsukiyomi, which would be launched for the first time in this battle.
A small group of people stood in the spaceport's enormous launch facility, clustered at the bottom of the gangway that led up towards the door to the ship.
Cagalli Yula Athha glanced up at the massive vessel and sighed. Then she turned towards the group and addressed the tall, elegant woman who stood at the forefront.
"Mina, I'm leaving everything to you while I'm gone." She said. "Coordinate with Representatives Yano and Himura on the Council."
- "Of course, Lady Cagalli." Rondo Mina Sahaku replied deferentially.
Cagalli nodded, as did the two members of the Council of Emirs who stood with her. Representative Hideki Yano and Saito Himura, two of the scant few who had supported her implicitly and without reservations over the past four years, even in opposition of the late ex-Prime Minister, Unato Ema Seiran. After the Battle of Orb, the Council had by unanimous consent appointed Representative Yano to replace Seiran.
Cagalli could leave confident that her country was in good hands. The hulking figure of Colonel Ledonir Kisaka, the Kusanagi's commanding officer and her own personal bodyguard since Athrun had left, detached itself from the group.
- "Cagalli, it's time." He said. "We need to get onboard."
- "Go. I'll be right there." Cagalli said firmly.
Kisaka nodded, and stepped up the gangway. Cagalli then turned away from the politicians towards the three civilians who stood some distance away. Two adults, a man and a woman, stood in the forefront, around a wheelchair. The expression of concern on the chair's occupant was mirrored on that of the two adults who stood around him.
"Take care of him. Please." She said, fighting to keep her voice even.
- "Of course." The woman replied.
- "You be careful up there, Cagalli. You hear?" said the wheelchair's occupant with a wry sort of smile. "I'm not gonna be there to get you out of trouble."
- "Like I'd need your help!" Cagalli retorted shortly, and he smiled. She smiled too, albeit uneasily.
- "Tell Canard and the others I said hi." He said, and she heard the regret in his tone. He wanted to be there, to go up there with them. But he couldn't.
- "Sure thing." She replied, then she turned and stepped up the gangway. As she reached the top, she stopped and turned around. "I'll see you all when I get back!"
Then, she stepped through the door, which closed behind her. She reached her seat, sat down. Soon afterwards, the Kusanagi was launched, headed towards space.
The trip into orbit was uneventful, and as soon as the Kusanagi reached orbit, it found its sister ship, the jet-black Izumo, waiting. The ship also found waiting hull modules B and C, the ship's combat modules.
"Hull B, Distance 210. Hull C, Distance 220." said one of the bridge crew as the two modules were detected, even as the ship ejected its transport module and shifted into a position between the two modules. "Rendezvous point clear, ready for docking."
- "Right. Begin." Colonel Ledonir Kisaka ordered.
- "Commencing docking." The crew reported, as the docking began. The entire procedure took a short time. Upon its completion, the two Izumo-class vessels set a course for the geosynchronous space station Ame-no-Mihashira, where the last two ships of the fleet were waiting - the Susanoo, and Tsukiyomi. Then, the four-ship Orb fleet would deploy, heading into the Debris Belt on their way to their ultimate destination: The moon.
Throughout the PLANTs, fear and confusion began to grow as news of the attack spread. The situation was made worse when Acting-President Brennan Marshall of the Eurasian Federation, flanked by Jameson Rodgers, his opposite number in the Atlantic Federation, suddenly made a broadcast televised worldwide, in which he condemned the attack.
"I do not know," he said, "Why the PLANTs have decided to turn on the Eurasian Federation after supporting us for so long. But I do know that this unprovoked aggression will not be allowed to stand. And that the Earth Alliance will eliminate this threat to the peace of all nations, by any means necessary, including the use of force."
Facing once again the threat of attack, the civilian population of the PLANTs panicked, as many wondered what would happen. Then, on every screen in the PLANTs, the familiar, beautiful face of Lacus Clyne appeared, and she began to speak.
"Everyone, please listen to me." She began her impassioned plea, as she had many times before. "I know that you are all frightened. The same weapon that was used against us, which we thought to have been destroyed, has been used once again, and once more the PLANTs are threatened. But do not be afraid; We all want this horrible war to end, and to live once again in peace. And I am sure that the Supreme Council, and our courageous soldiers of ZAFT, will do everything in their power to ensure that this dream that we all share becomes a reality."
She closed her eyes, and to everyone watching, seemed to be praying.
Athrun, as he watched the broadcast from his quarters on the Argenteuil, saw that she wore a short, elegant black kimono-like garment, with high, detached sleeves, and over that a white-and-lavender overcoat; it was a formal outfit, very different from the revealing outfits she had previously worn; in fact, he remembered Lacus wearing a nearly identical outfit in the final months of the first war. Moreover, her hair was styled in a similar high ponytail. Watching, he thought that she would begin to sing.
But she did not.
She took a deep breath, and then Meer Campbell raised her head and opened her eyes. She reached up behind her and untied the ribbon, and her long hair fell cascading down her back and over her shoulders. And then she began to speak again, and instead of hope and comfort, her words brought confusion to many who listened.
"Everyone, I know how much you have all looked to me for guidance, and I am thankful for all the kindness that you have all shown. But if there is one thing that I value almost as much as I do my dream, that all of us should live in peace, it is the truth. And the truth is something that has been withheld from you all for far too long."
She hesitated for a moment, and then spoke two sentences that changed everything.
"I am not who you think I am. I am not Lacus Clyne."