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 Post Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 1:08 am 
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Episode 18: On Whose Mighty Shoulders The World Stands

Across a black screen a small white point of light slowly drifts downward. More specks of white soon follow; the camera panning downward to reveal a gentle snowfall covering a small town in a layer of pure-white ice. The land in impenetrably dark, the shadow of night coupled with the devastation wrought by Junon's fall months earlier utterly obfuscating any sliver of light that might try to peek through the horizon. Nonetheless, thousands upon thousands of brilliant white snowflakes glow in the darkness, illuminating both heaven and earth as they fall.

Bundled in thick coats of long, coarse animal hair, two men trudge through the thickening drifts toward the only building in the town with lights shining out from inside. The building is a large, squat structure, built of wood much like the lodges that once freckled the landscape in times long ago. The man in the lead--an older, rather rotund fellow, with a sharp nose and short gray beard--stumbled slightly on a hidden stone. The younger man, comparatively short and startlingly thin in comparison to his companion stepped forward quickly to support the older man. The older man paused for a moment to turn to the side and nod in thanks to his companion before the two continued on their way.

As the two men continue trekking through the dark town, the deep voice of a narrator emerges. In the days following Durandel's speech, and the initial commencement of the Destiny Plan, no one knew quite how to react. ZAFT sent more mobile suits and personell down to Earth to help with the exodus, which had spurred the Eurasians to pull back the larger part of their armies and the Atlantics to curse ZAFT, claiming that Durandel was using the Destiny Plan as a pretext for conquest. ORB, of course, along with all of the nations that had helped to sponsor the construction of the Independent Colonies some years earlier wholeheartedly endorsed the plan.

The voices of the nations, however, were just as loud and just as shallow as always. The normal people of Earth, the soldiers fighting for their families, the refugees struggling to survive and the few men and women spared the immediate horrors of Junon were all, with little exception, at a loss.

Christmas day came and passed and no one seemed to notice. On the third of January, to the disbelief even of those crammed inside their steel bellies, the first dozen colony ships blasted off from Earth and set forth into the depths of space. Days passed, weeks passed, more and more people found themselves unwitting participants in Durandel's grand design. By St. Valentine's Day it was estimated that nearly 40% of the survivors on Earth had been relocated to new homes in the Independent Colonies.

Watching their resources dry up, their countrymen abandon them to the enticing dream of a new life in space, the Atlantic Federation and Eurasian Confederacy collided once more on the field of battle. ZAFT, preoccupied with the Destiny Plan could do little to stay the fires of war, and watched helplessly as the conflict between the Eurasians and Atlantics rose to unprecedented levels of violence, and spread the fury and terror of death to every corner of the world. And even as the Destiny Plan reached its zenith, it encountered great difficulty. The more people lifted into space, the more people on Earth desired to stay on the planet, clinging to their dissolving homes with all their willpower. By the end of February the once-great flood of applicants to the colony ships trickled to but a fraction of their initial numbers. Thus did Durandel determine a new course of action in absolute secrecy: to use any and all means to extricate the people of Earth, to save the poor masses from their inevitable deaths by herding them into space.

A battered tank crests a hill and lumbers downward, it's large dual-cannon turret swiveling to the side to unleash a fierce barrage of firepower rocking the vehicle off its treads ever-so-slightly. Aside from the crumbling ruins of old skyscrapers looming against the dull horizon, there is little in the landscape to mark a particular location. Two more tanks follow, firing their cannons in turn. A flurry of missiles rain down on the armored division from overhead, burning through the tank's armor and setting them aflame. A few soldiers escape the burning steel coffins, but die soon thereafter of the blaze. The camera pulls back to reveal a battle of immense scale; thousands of tanks and anti-armor troopers clash in a large field of broken steel and jagged rock; hundreds of mobile suits--of all varieties, from the venerable Daggers to the newer Windams--swarm back and forth, leaping over the artillery units and dueling with one another, trampling the hapless infantry underfoot.

Leaping back to avoid a missile-hit from a Eurasian APC, one of the Windam's notices a small red triangle dotting the edge of the gray horizon. Blasting the APC with its head-mounted vulcans, the Windam zooms in on the object; it is the Minerva, flanked by dozens of very large transport aircraft. Before the Atlantic Mobile suit can react in any way to the sighting, a singly high-intensity energy blast consumes it in a pillar of fire--immediately vertical of the blasted Windam, held aloft at an awkward angle by swiftly-overheating thrusters, Shinn's enhanced Impulse Gundam gracelessly falls to earth, smashing into the smoldering wreckage of the Windam. For the most part, none of the other soldiers engaged in battle take notice of ZAFT's arrival; continuing to pound shell after shell at each other unabated.

Firing a quick burst of missiles, Shinn destroys a group of artillery clustered near a the sunken ruins of an old iron bridge; sliding down the muddy bank, the Impulse Gundam kneels in the shallow edge of the river and sweeps across the wrecked bridge with its double heavy-beam cannons, cutting away the debris and sending it downstream. Perched upon the bow of an rusty oil tanker--filled to the top deck with refugees destined for a new life in space--Rey's Gaia Gundam shifted its canine head from side to side, scouting for potential enemies. Above, Lunamaria's Saviour flew about in large arcs and wide spirals, shooting down each Atlantic or Eurasian warrior that came too close. Standing precariously aboard the Minerva's wings, Heine's ZAKU squadron was equipped with the ZGMF-1000e (G) gunner packs, sweeping across the battlefield below with their powerful cannons to keep the soldiers below from attacking the refugee convoy in the skies.

In a matter of minutes, both the ZAFT convoy in the air led by the Minerva and the large transport vessels in the river pass through the battlefield; for the most part unharmed. Behind them, ZAFT leaves a thin trail of broken vehicles and burnt flesh. The fires of the great battle between the Atlantic Federation the Eurasians took little notice of the interlopers, ignoring ZAFT's presence even as they lost soldiers to them, focusing with unrelenting indifference to their own, private battle with each other. To Shinn, and to the many nervous refugees looking on the battle with renewed terror, it was a surreal experience; to voyage through such a cacophony of violence and death, yet still emerge unscathed.

At a large ZAFT base on the northern edge of what was once known as the Schwarzwald--or Black Forest--back when the region was still home to trees, Ezalia Joule stares out of the command tower--a very tall building resembling an old air-control tower, only much wider--to see the Minerva leading a pack of large cargo planes to the base. An adjutant approaches Ezalia and asks her if she would not prefer to rest for a while, since her trip down to earth from PLANT must have been very tiring. Ezalia declines, stating that she'd rather get to work as soon as possible. The adjutant laughs and mentions to her that Durandel said the same thing; Ezalia's face takes on a thoughtful expression and she curtly turns away from the windows, heading off to another task.

On board the Minerva, Shinn expresses his surprise that Durandel made the trip to Earth, and says that he never thought the Chairman would do something so dangerous. Heine comments that with the war with the Atlantics and Eurasians in full swing, it is indeed very dangerous--but Durandel has always had a bit of a reputation for acting recklessly, even back in the Bloody Valentine War. It was Durandel, after all, Heine says, that helped defend Rau le Creuset's defense after the Heliopolis incident. Lunamaria is taken aback, and says that she'd never heard anything like that.

Heine shrugs and says that it's one of the tiny little bits of trivia that almost never gets into the history books--particularly given what happened to Creuset at the end of the war. Rey sighs and says that it really doesn't matter; the Chairman came to Earth with the intent to speed along the Destiny Plan--rather than debate the merits of the Chairman's decision, they all ought to focus on fulfilling his expectations. Shinn laughs and tells Rey he's acting like one of the propagandists from the last war; Rey laughs and apologizes; Rey sits down and the four pilots chat with each other jovially as the Minerva's wings fold in and it lowers itself onto the tarmac below.

The older man placed his arm against the hard stone wall on the outside of the building while the younger used his feet--and in some cases his hands--to scrape away the layers of ice around the oaken door. Exerting a great deal of physical effort, the younger man pried the door open, revealing a warm room inside, lit with the warm flickering light of a large fire. The older man nodded in thanks and led the way in, leaving the younger man to force the door shut upon their entrance. Once inside, both men took off their large fur overcoats, revealing their faces to the crowd of men and women sitting around a large table in the center of the room. The older man, Richard Henne, was still pudgy, but without the coat he looked a good deal thinner; his face was dominated by a sharp nose of the Roman style, and a neatly-trimmed beard of pure-white. The younger man wore a pair of small-frame clear glasses, and short-cropped blonde hair; he was Henne's assistant and his name was Sai Argyle.

Sai moves quickly ahead of Henne to the table and pulls out a chair; Henne sits down and Sai stands at attention behind them. For a moment the room is silent; Henne scans the room with an expressionless eye, taking careful stock of the faces at the table. Everyone was dressed very formally and walked with a particular air of dignity. All the men and women were powerful, influential members of various states, corporations and organizations. Among those seated were the notorious Lord Djibril, the shadowy leader of Blue Cosmos, and Yuuna Roma Seiran--a prominent member of ORB's senate and the heir apparent to one of the oldest noble families in that land.

Henne thanks everyone for agreeing to meet with him on such short notice, despite all the troubles they independently face. Henne says that he has called everyone together for a single purpose; everyone at the table realizes that the biggest problem facing the world is neither the horrific war between the Atlantic Federation and the Eurasian Federation, or the the culminating effects of the Junon disaster--the greatest danger to the world is that ZAFT's ruthless ambitions are left free to roam across the world unchecked at the whims of Durandel. Everyone at the table is aware of this fact, Henne says, yet no one alone is capable of changing anything.

Yuuna Roma Seiran speaks up at this point, boldly asking Henne what he proposes they do. Already vast quantities of the populace have been forced from their homes into Durandel's prisons in space; all anyone has to work with is an ever-dwindling supply of manpower and resources. ZAFT may not be all-powerful yet, but the gap between the people of Earth and PLANT is simply to great to hope to bridge. Henne states that regardless of whether or not such a thing is feasible or not, it is their only course of action. No matter what his intentions might be, the course of action Durandel has taken is an evil one and must be stopped. Henne says that they only have two choices: either sit in compliance, and accept the ZAFT's rule, or fight to save their homes. He then demands that anyone that would rather flee to PLANT than fight leave the table, but everyone, predictably, stays seated.

From the shadows at the corner of the table Julius Djibril leans forward, sitting in such a position as to have his torso completely obfuscated in shadow while his face--deathly pale--is well-lit. Djibril says that everyone here agrees, of course, else they wouldn't have come. The great foundations that once supported the Earth have crumbled in Junon's wake; it is time that they, themselves rise up to shoulder the burden of the Planet's fate. Henne nods in agreement, and says that just as Atlas did countless eons ago, it is their turn to assume responsibility for the planet and all who dwell therein.

In the back of the room, in the darkest shadows, just behind the seat of Djibril, a thin mouth curls into a smile framed by a thin plate of metal. His face hidden by the helmeted-mechanism bound to his skull, Neo Roanoke allowed himself to feel the pleasant tingle of anticipation.

Next Episode: The Last War Of The World

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Last edited by Mwulf on Sun Sep 23, 2007 5:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 3:39 am 
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I have to say even if it is cliché and very black-and-white to set either extremist Coordinators or Naturals loose on civilians, you wrote that scene very nicely indeed. Blood and gore, yes, but when it is called for. Reminded me of Sven & co. leveling the refugee camp in Stargazer. And I almost thought you might've killed off Durandel this early, which would've been surprising (but not necessarily a bad thing if you had fitted that in to the larger scheme of things). :wink:

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 Post Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 10:13 pm 
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Hehehe... yeah. In my first outline, I had Durandel dying fairly early... 'bout halfway through the series. That has, of course, changed. The more I fleshed out the storyline, the more interested I became in Durandel and his motivations, which eventually grew into a backstory you caught a glimpse of that past episode.

One of the things that will sort of stay with the series is that no matter who is fighting, or why they're fighting, the old hatreds will always be present. From the perspective of the Junon incident, it may seem like a great idea to give everyone a new home in space, but keep in mind that Durandel is essentially packing all the naturals and coordinators he can find into a very, very small space. They're not going to suddenly stop hating each other simply because it's self destructive and illogical. Which, by the way, is pretty much the exact reasoning behind the Atlantic Federation's war with the Eurasians.

Speaking of which, I have a couple maps of the Earth to present (a bit late, though). And YES, I realize the Carribean is missing and that the shapes aren't entirely accurate... but to be fair, it's pretty hard to draw the geography of a planet accurately in MS Paint.

National Map
This is a simple geo-political breakdown of the Earth's surface. All the major nations are shown, but keep in mind that the "Unions" would be loose coalitions of nation-states, governed by seperate entities. Any semblance of cooperation between member nations would be minor to nonexistant post-Juno, or even openly hostile.

The Dark Brown regions represent areas that are contested between the Eurasian Confederacy and Atlantic Federation; neither side has a clear command of the areas. Bright Red, on the other hand, represent territories that are DIRECTLY under the control of ZAFT. This does not include allied-nations, but rather regions that are governed directly by PLANT.

As you can see, the war scale of the war between the Atlantic Federation and Eurasia is immense.

Destiny Plan Popular Support
This map is a simple demographic map, illustrating the various regions of Earth and detailing whether or not those populations are in favor of Durandel's Destiny Plan, oppose the Plan, or are nuetral.

Red is opposed to the Destiny Plan. Blue is for the Destiny Plan. Green is undecided.


I'll be posting the newest episode later tonight. Yes, it ends with a cliche that is very, very annoying to any Gundam fan. I hope to make it more... interesting than it's been in the past, so please give it a chance. This new episode marks the begining of... an avalanche, so to speak. From here on out things will slowly but surely become bigger and bigger, more complex and interesting, all the way up to the grand conclusion.

Followed by, in my far-reaching planning, yet another 50-odd episode series. Which, if I do write, will cast good ol' albino Sven in the leading role. :P

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 Post Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 11:03 am 
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Oh, I have been forewarned! Now I must read it! :D

About the maps, it's interesting you put KoS to support the Destiny Plan, given their neutrality. I suppose you could argue that the welfare-state is something of a Destiny Plan, but personally (and this is me talking about today, not the hypothetical world of GSD) I would think Durandel would have as hard a sell with Destiny Plan is in the US. :wink: But thanks very much for the visuals, it makes your world more alive. :)

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*Almost everyone I've killed uttered similar last words.
-Then I am glad once again that you are on my side.
*They've often said that too.


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 Post Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 7:00 pm 
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Well, basically I used geagraphy as the primary determining factor, and politics as a secondary.

Regions that sustain the most damage, or are the hardest to live in, would be the most-pressed into wanting to leave.

The large swath of central north America was relatively untouched, so they'd be very against the idea.

Coastal and frontier regions (desert, tundra and jungle environments) would face a lot of difficulty surviving. Especially without power, etc. In the north, I see Scandenavia as being in pretty bad shape... MOST of Europe is in pretty bad shape, as many of the larger fragments of Junon fell in that hemisphere.

Another reason for the strong Destiny-support from Scandinavia and ORB is the fact that both of these nations already have more national assets in space than they do on the Earth itself. More money invested, and at least 1/4th of their citizenry.

Something that I mention in the next episode, which I'll bring up here as sort of an example, is that a moderate-sized fragment impacts near modern-day Bulgaria, instantly killing everyone in a 140KM radius. Dust is pretty much everywhere, even months after the disaster, but in regions of Europe it'd be much, much more dense and lower to the ground, whereas elsewhere it's more of a very-thick cloud layer... If that makes any sense.

And one more thing I forgot to mention on the map... ATLANTIS! Or, rather, the very odd crescent-shaped island where ORB is. Yeah, I completely made that up. Actually, I'm working on a complete backstory/history of ORB to explain the landmass, give them a national identity, AND explain why they're so powerful/influential.

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Episode 19: The Last War Of The World

A small drop of water falls onto a patch of dry dirt, sending a small puff of dust up into the air before it is quickly absorbed into the parched ground, leaving little more than a tiny pinprick of terrain a slightly darker than all the rest as evidence of its existence. A few more drops start to fall, slowly, and in moments the parched earth is quenched as the soft torrents of a gentle rain sweep over the area. The camera pans back to reveal a small village, comprised mostly of small wooden structures. People of varying ages, genders and ethnicities mill about, sometimes glancing at the horizon anxiously, but for the most part they seem to be waiting in an aura of dread that seems to slowly increase to keep up with the rising humidity.

A low humming in the distance, in the direction of a pair of pale blue mountains, slowly comes closer. A dozen or so small black specs appear in the horizon, their sound and appearance muffled by the soft patter of the uncharacteristically soft rain. The people in the town look at the specks with apparent fear, but only a few of them flee. As they come closer, the sound changes from a dull hum to a sharp throbbing, as each speck reveals itself to be a rather large helicopter, fitted with twin rotaries and emblazoned with the telltale red cross of ZAFT's Operation Destiny. A mother, carrying an infant under one arm and grasping the frail arm of another child running beside her, make her way swiftly to the edge of the town, hoping to find cover in the dying woodlands. Before she can make it, however, the giant black boot of a mobile suit slams to the ground, spraying the three civilians with a sharp streak of fresh mud.

The woman's baby begins to screech and squeal in abject terror as the mother attempts to calm it; the mobile suit takes a step forward, and is joined by three other similar units in a loose perimeter around the town. Each of the mobile suits is painted in stark black, and each resembles a ZAKU, though there are several distinct differences. Like the helicopters approaching the town from the mountains, these black mobile suits, too, are marked with the red cross of Operation Destiny. Using a loudspeaker embedded in the mobile suit's skull, one of the pilots announces to the civilians that they are ZAFT's Seraph Squadron, and they are there to escort all of the civilians to the nearest colony ship. The pilot demands that everyone stay where they are and to wait for the helicopters to land.

One old man, his left arm in a sling and dirty bandages wrapped loosely over his left eye, hobbles toward the lead mobile suit with the help of a cane. He spits on the ground--there is gooey, blackish blood mixed in with the saliva--and demands that ZAFT go away and leave them alone. He tells them that they'd rather die at home that be driven to some space-monster's version of a death camp. One of the mobile suits lurches forward violently, as if to attack the older man, but is stopped by another black suit, who urges his fellow pilot to calm down. Ignoring the lack of discipline with his subordinates, the leader--Jarrod Crux--firmly raises his suit's main weapon, a large autocannon in the rough shape of a rifle with a short, stubby barrel, and fires three pinpoint shells into the town. Three of the largest building explode, sending a rain of black ash onto the civilians as the dark gray smoke billows upwards. Crux tells the old man that if he wants to die with his home, he can, and then proceeds to lift his mobile suit's foot, crushing the man under it with a sickening crunch.

The helicopters land, and Crux once again addresses the civilians. He tells them that ZAFT has no use for pathetic trash that wants to cling to a dying planet. Either the civilians will board the helicopters and be transferred to a colony ship, or they will all die here. As if to expand their leader's point, the three other black mobile suits move forward and use their head vulcans--originally intended as anti-infantry weapons--to spray the remaining buildings. A few structures catch fire, but with the rain coming down harder by the minute, most of the buildings simply splintered, shattered and collapsed. At gunpoint, several hundred of the residents are loaded into the helicopters. No one looks particularly happy, but no one resists either. In a matter of minutes, half of the civilians have been loaded up like cattle and the helicopters raise off the ground and depart; two of the black mobile suits take to the air by way of a modified wing attachment and follow. As they disappear once more beyond the horizon, Crux informs the remaining civilians that the helicopters will return in a few hours and asks everyone to sit tight until then.

One of the civilians, a boy of about 14 years, uses an old lighter to ignite an oil-drenched cloth in a bottle of alcohol. Despite the rain, the boy hurls the makeshift bomb at Crux's mobile suit, and watches with morbid pleasure as the torso of the lead mobile suit erupts in flame. The civilians scream in terror and try to flee, hoping that the ZAFT mobile suits will be too distracted to give chase. Crux swears, and calls the fleeing naturals vermin. Ignoring the flames--which die out quickly enough, doing little more than scarring the paint--Crux uses his unit's head vulcans to carve a swath of red in the mass of fleeing civilians, his one remaining subordinate does the same. The large shells, designed to rupture the armor a powered infantryman, are so strong they literally break their victims into thousands of pieces, turning human beings into unholy geysers of blood and gore.

An eye narrows in the reflection of a screen depicting the massacre from the distance. Two green lines move vertically and horizontally as the screen shudders up and down, eventually intersecting over the image of the torso of one of the black mobile suits. At the center of the X, a red circle appears indicating a target lock. Noiselessly, a small band or gold energy stretches outward to the black mobile suit, but misses, slamming into the ground a few meters away. Taking note of the explosion, Crux's unit finds cover and scans the air for the attacker. Not finding anything at first, Crux orders his fellow pilot to lay low for a moment. Soon enough, Crux spots a speck on the horizon and zooms in on it. Even with the expanded screen, the object is still very far away, but it's closing fast. Two more golden lances of energy fly outward, incinerating a building near to where Crux was hiding.

A few civilians were still nearby, wailing in agony as they struggled to stay alive. Everyone who could flee was gone, everyone else was either dead or dying. Crux comments that the attacker is still far away and wonders why it can be so accurate. The attacking mobile suit fires three quick shots at the open ground in front of it, using the thick plumes of dust for cover. Bursting out from the smoke at a much closer range, the attacker reveals itself to be an ORB model Strike II Gundam, painted a nonstandard dark blue. Using it's massive thrusters to lift itself even higher above the burning town, the Strike II takes careful aim with it's giant beam sniper-cannon (a rifle nearly as long as the the Gundam was tall) and fires a bright gold bolt of energy at the second black mobile suit, cutting through the blackened husk of a home it hid behind and dissolving the ZAFT mobile suit's left arm into a puddle of molten alloy.

Crux decides to leap upward and attack the Strike II while it's preoccupied with his comrade, and rushes at the enemy mobile suit from below. Crux is shocked to see the Strike II move its shield to block his attack, effortlessly knocking his machine back to the ground, as it takes careful aim with its sniper-cannon to attack the other machine. Inside the cockpit, Kira Yamato squeezes the trigger a second time, and once again a beam of golden energy sparks out of the barrel, this time cutting through the other black mobile suit's head. A small communication window pops up in the cockpit, both the audio and video are hampered by static. The face of Lacus Clyne appears, wearing a worried expression. Lacus tells Kira to be careful, they've never seen this model of mobile suit before. Kira says he'll be fine and promises her that he'll be back safely. The communication cuts off and Kira tosses the sniper-cannon over the Strike II's shoulder, replacing it with the high-output beam saber. A small donut-shaped parachute shoots out from the butt of the discarded rifle, softening its landing in the waterlogged earth.

The blue Strike II lands quietly in the center of the town. The Gundam is motionless and neither Crux or his teammate move. Kira looks at the ruined corpses of the townspeople and grimaces. Without warning he swings the Strike II's left arm, releasing the large shield from it's lock on the Gundam's forearm and sending it hurdling toward Crux's unit. Jarrod Crux howls in surprise as the spiked end of the shield tears into the black mobile suit's upper torso, carving a long gash across the unit's torso, exposing the cockpit to the elements. Crux stares at the Strike II in fear, then regains composure and orders his comrade to attack. The other black suit, missing both it's left arm and head, ignores Crux's order and begins to back away. Crux flies into a rage and fires his autocannon at his comrade and places three shells in the mobile suits back. Kira rushes forward, but is unable to prevent the attack. Using the immense power of the high-output beam saber, Kira cleaves a diagonal slash across the upper torso of Crux's mobile suit, cleanly removing the craft's head and right arm.

Wiping the rain from his face Crux curses, calling the Strike II's pilot an ZOINKS natural. Kira levels his deactivated beam saber at Crux's open cockpit, and demands the ZAFT pilot's surrender. Cursing again, Crux flings the autocannon at the Strike II, which Kira easily bats away. Before it hits the ground however, Crux fires his head-vulcans at the discarded weapon, causing it to explode in a disproportionately large pillar of smoke and flame. Leaping into the air, the wings on the back of Crux's black mobile suit unfurl and a pair of powerful thrusters ignite, fueling his rapid retreat. As he desperately heads for cover, Crux promises that he will make the natural bastards pay for his disgrace. Alone in the ruined village, Kira exits the Strike II's cockpit and walks around, slowly, treading over the broken human remains without pause, looking for any unlikely survivor. His face is expressionless yet tears stream down his cheeks, silent and unnoticed.

Noah Jung steps to the side of the control center as a pair of exhausted, apparently overworked aides rush in, exclaiming that shuttle is late. An officer asks for a status update and one of the aides hurriedly informs him that the Senate's shuttle was delayed passing through the debris belt, and will not arrive until 2 minutes past its scheduled arrival time. Clenching his teeth, the officer throws a clipboard at the aide, telling her not to waste his time with trivial nonsense. Blocking the clipboard with her hands raised in front of her face--and sending rogue papers flying in every direction--the aide apologize furiously, and says she was worried the Chairman might get angry. Appearing suddenly from behind, Gilbert Durandel tells the nervous woman that he's a patient man. Startled, the woman turns around and apologizes again. Everyone in the command center--including Noah--snap salutes at the chairman; Noah is surprised that Durandel was able to get in without him noticing, and tells himself that he's going to have to be more careful in the future.

Walking toward the center of the room, Durandel stops suddenly and turns to face Noah, his eyes narrowing. Durandel asks Noah if they've met before; Noah, wearing a large set of black shades, removes his glasses and squints a bit, and tells Durandel that it is their first meeting. He introduces himself as Noah Jung and supposes that Durandel once knew his father. Durandel looks confused for a bit, and then tells Noah to forget about. Noah salutes once more and puts his glasses back one. Durandel moves to the center of the command center and looks out the large windows at the airfield. Located east of Dublin, the ZAFT base was rather large for such an isolated region. It was one of the few areas in Europe that was relatively free from the strife caused by the war between the Atlantic Federation and Eurasia.

Durandel approaches the window and notes a tiny group of dots on the horizon. He stares at them for a moment, but says nothing. Walking way from the window Durandel moves toward the middle of the room again; shrugging, Durandel comments that it doesn't matter if the representatives are late or not, they're really only coming to observe. Before anyone can reply, however, a massive explosion rocks the building. Durandel frowns slightly, and the officer in charge demands a status report. Before anyone can answer, three missiles streak toward the command center. One slams into the tarmac just below, blasting chunks of concrete into the air. The second impacts the side of the building with a deafening explosion. The third missile crashes through the glass window of the command center and detonates, causing the floor above to collapse, pinning Durandel, Noah and the others under a heap of rubble. As blood trickles down his face, Durandel's vision blurs and he blacks out.

A pair of hand frantically remove large chunks of rubble and toss them aside. A child's voice screams, terrified, for "Gil." A young blonde boy, no more than ten years old, removes large chunks of rubble with his bare hands, and drags the bloody form of a black haired teenager from the wreckage. Explosions can be heard in the distance, some louder than others. Fighter aircraft fly overhead, gleaming against the bright blue sky in the full light of the sun. One by one they let loose volleys of missiles, scorching the earth and leaving a raging inferno in their wake. The blonde boy shakes the teenager, Gil, and tells him to wake up. Gil's eyes slowly open and he takes a moment to focus. The blonde boy sighs and leans back, moaning, telling Gil to stop acting so immature and get up. Again, the boy tells Gil to get up. This time his voice is a little deeper. Gil, still laying down, struggles to move by he cannot. As the fighting continues around them, the blonde child tells Gil to stop being so lazy.

Gil's eyes glaze over and the world suddenly becomes very, very blurry. It gets darker and darker. Again, Gil hears the blonde boy urging him to wake up. This time, however, the voice quickly changes from that of a child to that of a man. "I'm sorry," the man's voice says. Deep but strained, the voice is still recognizable as that of the blonde child. Durandel grimaces as a pair of non-commissioned officers remove a large chunk of rubble from his chest. Coughing, and allowing the two men to help him stand up, Durandel wipes away the blood from his face and asks what is going on. The ceiling of the command center is gone, nothing is overhead but a gray sky. In the distance, several ZAKU's are fighting with a group of mobile suits, resemblant of Windams but different, sporting a distinct light-green paint scheme and all with the symbol of a blue circle on their shoulders. Durandel tries to ask who they are, but his voice is hoarse and no one hears him.

A pair of medics remove the bloody corpse of the woman who had been frantically apologizing to Durandel earlier. The commander turns and notices Durandel, and breathes a sigh of relief. Durandel nods at the battlefield beyond, and the commander takes it as a request for a status update. The commander clears his throat and tells Durandel that it's been ten minutes since the attack. The base was assaulted by an unknown force comprised of unknown units broadcasting an unknown IFF. The enemy has mostly retreated, save for a few stragglers, and received very few losses. The commander motions outward and says that ZAFT, on the other hand, suffered enormous losses. Both in terms of material and personell. The commander straightens up and his voice stiffens. He then informs Durandel that of the six shuttles expected to arrive, five have been shot down and the sixth is missing. Whether or not the members of the supreme council that were onboard are dead or alive, he says, is unknown. Coughing violently, Durandel wipes more blood from his brow and and, again, asks who the attackers are. Both Durandel and the commander look outward as the ZAKU team finishes off the strange Windams, but neither man says anything.

Covered in thick sheen of blood, some of it long-dry, some of it still wet, Kira Yamato rises from his knees. Putting her hand on his shoulder, Lacus Clyne holds him close, comforting him. Her white dress, too, is stained with the blood of the innocent. Though the sky is still gray, the rain has stopped. The ground is still wet, but most of the corpses are gone. Hundreds of mounds dot the landscape, simple wooden crosses marking each one. Both Kira's and Lacus' hands are dirty from the work. Lacus looks down and closes her eyes. Surveying the dead town, Kira promises that he will never forgive Durandel.

Next Episode: Defeat And Chaos In The Dark

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Last edited by Mwulf on Sun Sep 23, 2007 5:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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First off, on the episode: Very nice work. Enjoyable read and a very lively battle. I just have to say that several of your ideas seem to echo my thoughts on my own fic as well (the dust of the Junius) collision and so on, but different enough. I also like the way Windams have a serious battle-role and they're not just fodder in your fic (I might've said that before as well, but here it is again). The Stellar-Shinn -thing also seems much less retarded the way you've done it here.

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Especially without power, etc. In the north, I see Scandenavia as being in pretty bad shape...

It's not THAT cold up here, man. :D But I get your point.

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Another reason for the strong Destiny-support from Scandinavia and ORB is the fact that both of these nations already have more national assets in space than they do on the Earth itself. More money invested, and at least 1/4th of their citizenry.

Wait, is this canon or within the world of your fic? Because I haven't heard before of KoS satellites or colonies (though that doesn't mean there wouldn't be any).

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Basically within the fic.

The only "canon" I have insofar as the universe is concerned is limited strictly to what happens in Seed. The anime. That's it. Not the SE, not the Final Plus, not the Astrays, not manga... just the anime.

And, again, thanks for the support.

As for the battle itself, we'll see some of the aftermath in the next episode, but the role of PP was basically to keep the main forces distracted so they wouldn't notice the drones, so that the drones could take out the Minerva (& base facilities) unnoticed. It didn't quite go as planned, but it still went pretty well for PP. Really, the only named pilot that emerged unscathed was Rey.

And yeah, I hope to keep the Stellar/Shinn thing more interesting than it was in Destiny, (and even more interesting than the Four/Kamille thing) so we'll see how that plays out.

I'd like to have a new episode done in a day or two, but with the Impulse down I may just focus on designing a new Gundam first. Granted, the next 2 episodes are going to be... very fun.

I wonder sometimes if I don't have too much going on. Right now I've got unresolved storylines (prominent ones) with Kira, Cagalli, Shinn/PP, Durandel, and Ezalia. To name a few. It's gonna get a bit hectic trying to fit all of that stuff in... but, in the end, I think it'll be worth it.

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Episode 20: Defeat and Chaos in the Dark

Two brilliant streams of crimson-laced energy fire from the twin weapon pods of Shinn's Impulse Gundam, engulfing a green Windam in a sea of vibrant orange flame. The Windam's molten wreckage falls to the ground, smearing a small swath of black carbon across the Minerva's port wing. The Minerva, floating the muddled skies several hundred feet above the ground, turns sharply to the side, it's massive Tannhäuser cannon piercing through two of Atlas' Garuda air-carriers. Still standing on the top of the Minerva's deck, using the airborne warship as a mobile firing-platform, Shinn fires a pair of volleys at a trio of A1-C2 model high-mobility Windams. The Windams easily dodge Shinn's missile barrage, and lay down a barrage of their own at the Minerva's mobile suit deck. As the Minerva shudders from the damage and begins to list, the Impulse Gundam looses it's footing and careens over the side of the vessel, falling headfirst.

Flying at the Impulse, Lunamaria quickly transforms her Savior into it's mobile suit mode, grappling onto the Impulse and righting the Gundam. Shinn uses the Impulse' powerful thrusters, designs for high-velocity combat in space, to fly a short distance and land safely on the ground below. Shinn thanks Luna for helping him out, and Lunamaria tells Shinn that he needs to be more careful. An older, Federation model Windam takes the opportunity to lunge at the Savior while Lunamaria was distracted, but a quick beam through the head from a nearby allied ZAKU destroys it in a single shot. Inside the cockpit of the ZAKU, Heine tells Lunamaria not to get too cocky. Lunamaria then boosts back into the sky, gruffly telling Heine that she'll show him how a 'real ace' fights. Shinn sighs, and comments to himself that Luna really does need to take more care in the future.

With the Garudas destroyed by the Minerva, the remaining Atlas forces have no means of retreat, and are quickly obliterated. Rey signals to the Minerva that all enemy force are destroyed, and Shinn and Lunamaria are ordered back to the hangar. Heine and Rey, however, are to remain active, in case of another attack. Two small helicopter-like drones lift off from the Minerva, each carrying the end of one of the ship's long energy cables in the grip of a single robotic arm. The cables are attached to both Heine's ZAKU and Rey's Gaia Gundam. As the cable attaches itself to the back of Gaia, Rey turns his Gundam to look at the large airfield that had been Atlas target in the brief scuffle.

A half-dozen giant egg-shaped colony ships stood tall. Save for a few charred scratches, they were all undamaged. Rey sighs in relief, thankful that all of the refugees emerged unharmed from the battle. Across the radio, Heine comments that it's odd for Atlas to target colony ships that are already loaded with refugees; up till now, Atlas had limited its targets solely to military and production facilities. Rey frowns and comments that it's only natural for things to escalate, but Heine laughs. Commenting that with their goal of protecting the people of Earth, there's no way that Atlas would ever actually resort to attacking fully-loaded colony ships. Rey frowns, and says that he hopes Heine is correct.

On board the Minerva's Bridge, Talia watches as the six giant colony ships slowly rise above the ground and move heavenward, momentarily covering the Minerva in a blanket of smoke. As the ships disappear into the gray skies above, Talia orders Rey and Heine to stand down, and orders the Minerva to set sail for the ZAFT base in Izmir, along the Eastern coast of the Aegean Sea. Meyrin notifies Talia that the Minerva is receiving it's daily news telecast, and falls silent. Meyrin gasps, and thanks God as tears well up in her eyes. Arthur nervously asks her what's wrong, and Meyrin says that several senators were found alive. Talia, Arthur, and several other officers crowd behind Meyrin's console, watching relieved as images of Ezalia Joule, and several other senators, being led away from the burnt wreckage of a downed shuttle played across the screen.

Talia sits back in her chair and sighs, saying she's glad that their government was completely decapitated. She then rolls her eyes, and comments to herself that in a thousand years she'd never think to say something like that. Arthur walks up to her and says that no one could expect that kind of thing. Who knew that an organization like Atlas could be born in the violence following Junon's fall. That they could develop their own weapons so quickly, and even mount an attack on the Supreme Chairman and council without being discovered. The whole thing was completely unbelievable. With all the fighting still going on between Eurasia and the Atlantic Federation, Atlas has plenty of places to hide. Talia says that things are even worse than the apparent reality. No matter what kind of guerrilla tactics Atlas uses, they still have to have bases and production factories somewhere.

With all the equipment that Atlas has been using, they must be getting a lot of funding somewhere. Neither the Atlantic Federation or the Eurasians are in any position to fund an independent paramilitary organization, and most of the other major political powers are fully committed to the implementation of the Destiny Plan. But so far ZAFT has been unable to find any of Atlas' sources of funds, equipment or raw materials. And while ZAFT keeps looking for a way to cut off Atlas from the base, Atlas keeps on attacking them. Meyrin asks if the Destiny plan is really that bad of a thing, to inspire Atlas to fight against it so fervently. Arthur tells her that it's not about the Destiny plan at all. Meyrin is a bit confused by this. Talia states that the real reason for the war is the same that it's always been. If Durandel were a natural, Atlas wouldn't exist at all. It's the fact that coordinators are trying to save them that stirs up the ire. Meyrin frowns and says that it's stupid. Arthur shrugs.

The night sky in Edirne was almost as dark as the day sky. In place of illuminated patches of red dotting the horizon were illuminated patches of black. The area around Veliko Tarnova had been hit especially bad by the fragments of Junon. A chunk of the asteroid had impacted very near to the city, a annihilated every living creature in a radius that expanded nearly as far as Stara Zagora, and funneled immense quantities of dust into the air beyond. Edirne was a small city north of the Marmara Sea, straddling the Bosporus between the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea. Its proximity to water kept the air cleaner than many of the nearby settlements, but the citizens of Edirne still had to wear masks across their mouths in order to breathe the outside air.

With his metal-clad head hidden beneath a dark gray hood, Neo stands outside of an old stone warehouse; Sting Oakley stands beside him with a dull red scarf wrapped around his face, protecting his mouth and nose from the dust-laden air. A large truck approaches the warehouse; hauling a flatbed trailer with a massive form covered with burlap on top. The truck stops in front of Neo and the driver gets out--his face, too, covered with a thick cloth--and nods curtly at Neo before walking away. Neo gestures at Sting, who leaps to the back of the truck and pulls away the burlap cover, revealing the cargo. Laying back-down on the flatbed is an enormous mobile suit--nearly twice the size of an Atlantic Windam. Stings eyes widen, and he pulls the cloth up even further to show Neo. The mobile suit is painted a dark shade of blue, and upon it's head is the distinctive multi-pronged V-Fin of a Gundam. Neo nods at Sting once more and moves inside the warehouse. Sting hops into the abandoned driver's seat of the truck as the two massive steel doors to the warehouse slowly shudder open.

The inside of the warehouse is very different from the outside. It's very clean, very white, and very well-lit. A couch is set up in a corner, Auel is playing a handheld gaming device as Sting drives the Blue Breaker inside, seemingly unaware of the heavy machinery operating nearby. Stellar walks up to Neo and asks him if it's the Blue Breaker. Neo nods and Stellar asks if it's really alright to let Atlas see the PICES device. Neo says it's fine; the people in Atlas don't really have the background to understand what it is to begin with, and even if they did it's an older prototype model, so any knowledge they could gain would be fairly insignificant. Stellar asks Neo if it'll be of any use at all, if it's so insignificant. Neo smiles and states that it'll be an amusing toy to play with while they're working with Atlas. Stellar sighs and says she really hates all the bickering going on in Gaia. Neo tells her not to worry about it too much; she just need to bear with it a little while longer. Stellar shrugs and says she'll do what she can. Approaching the couch, she pushes Auel's legs off of the side and sits down, leaning back and closing her eyes. Auel doesn't say anything, still playing with his toy, and Neo smiles softly before walking away.

In the General Assembly building in the center of ORB's Onogoro Island, Yuuna Roma Seiran, the heir to one of ORB's oldest aristocratic houses and member of the Assembly, is led into the office of the chief representative, Cagalli Yula Atha. Cagalli, apparently very stressed, rudely asks Yuuna what was so important that he would request a private meeting with her when everyone is so busy with the colony ship launches. The corner of Yuuna's mouth curls in a rather disturbing half-smile and he tells Cagalli that he's there to speak to her about her brother. Yuuna tosses a folder onto Cagalli's desk, allowing several large satellite photos to spread out.

Several photos show top-down views of a distinctive blue-colored Strike II Gundam, others show a small fleet of a dozen or so sailing vessels. Yuuna tells Cagalli that it's been more than two weeks since Kira took command of ORB's 8th Fleet, and there are several reports that the fleet has engaged in combat with ZAFT forces in the Mediterranean regions. Cagalli frowns, and says that the information isn't reliable; Kira isn't the kind of person to act so foolishly in this kind of situation. Yuuna grimaces, and tells Cagalli that it doesn't matter if it's really Kira or not. ZAFT will want an explanation, and this kind of thing can very easily turn into a major incident--even if it's untrue. Cagalli doesn't speak for a while. Yuuna asks her what she intends to do.

Cagalli says she won't do anything at all--not until they know more about what's going on. Yuuna sighs and tells her that her way of thinking is only going to invite trouble. Cagalli gets angry and tells Yuuna that she can decide whatever she wants, and then orders him to go. On his way out of her office, Yuuna turns to Cagalli and comments that if Kira really is fighting against ZAFT, there are some people that might view that as a good thing. Cagalli, her head lowered, tells Yuuna to give her some time alone. As Yuuna shuts the door behind him, Cagalli takes one of the photos--an aerial shot of the Strike II kneeling in the middle of a ruined village--and asks herself what the hell Kira is thinking.

At the ZAFT base at Izmir, the loud sound of an air-raid warning blares across the tarmac. The bridge of the Minerva is in a state of panic as the officers rush to their posts, hurriedly trying to figure out the cause for the alarm. Struggling to get into her seat, Meyrin spills a glass, soaking the floor of the bridge with a thin sheen of fluid. Meyrin starts to bend down to clean it up, but laughs, thinking better of it, and sits down at her station. Talia enters the bridge and demands a status update. Before anyone can respond, however, the glowing visor of a Windam flashes the bridge, as a purple colored A1-C2 model enhanced high-mobility type flies by the bridge at high speed. Inside the C2 Windam, Auel Loussier fires several shots of his beam rifle at the rear-spine area of the ZAFT warship.

Two more dark-purple C2 Windams appear at the opposite end of the base, piloted by Neo Roanoke and Sting Oakley. Together with Auel, the three Phantom Pain mobile suits wreak havoc on the base, covering dozens of structures and idle vehicles in a swath of flame before the ZAFT forces have time to mount a counterattack. A pair of CGUEs set off from a far hangar, while the Minerva's Gundams rush to sortie. Almost immediately after the three Gundams catapult from the Minerva's deck, Heine's trio of ZAKUs run out of the ship's hangar and jump down to the pavement below, each one firing off several shots of their beam rifles mid-fall. The Saviour, in its mobile-armor configuration, flies straight at Neo's Windam, firing it's twin heavy beam cannons as get closes in.

Neo reacts surprisingly quickly, however, boosting down and to the side to avoid the attack. Lunamaria curses and transforms the Saviour into its mobile suit configuration just as she passes the Windam, and turns around swiftly to bring down her beam saber over the top of Neo's Windam.
The beam saber cuts through air. Lunamaria is shocked, and doesn't have time to react as Neo's Windam lands on her from above, using it's feet to knock the Saviour out of the sky and send it careening downward, it's wings broken. Lunamaria tries to fly back up to attack Neo's Windam once more, but Neo's kick heavily damaged the Saviour's wings.

With the Lift-System out of control, the Saviour spins wildly to the side. Deactivating the system, Luna runs the Savior behind a small administrative building while firing her beam rifle. Neo pauses a moment to dodge the Saviour's halfhearted attack, grins briefly at the sight, and flies toward the Minerva to join Auel in the attack. Neo radios commands to his two subordinates, telling them that all they have to do is keep the enemy mobile suits distracted until the Workers get in close enough to attack. Auel shouts his affirmative, using his beam saber to slice the head off of one of the Minerva's ZAKUs as Heine starts to move back toward the Minerva's deck in a defensive position.

On the bridge of the Minerva, Arthur informs Talia that they've lost half of their ZAKUs, and Heine has sustained too much damage to keep fighting. A trio of CGUEs fly overhead, covering Neo and Auel's Windams in a hail of bullets. The left arm of Auel's Windam gets shredded, and falls limp. Neo tells Auel to keep the Minerva's suits occupied, and boosts backward, firing his beam rifle four times and cutting searing holes through the cockpits of each of the three CGUEs. On the Minerva's bridge, Talia is shocked that so few Windams could cause so much damage. Forced to walk at a slow pace back to the Minerva, Lunamaria's hands tremble; she is unable to fully realize the fact of her defeat. Sting moves in to attack the Saviour, but is blasted by a barrage of missiles from Shinn's Impulse-Kai. Rey's Gaia then runs up to attack the C2 Windam at close range, Shinn leaps backward and starts to move back toward the Minerva, shouting at Lunamaria to not push herself too hard with the Saviour damaged.

As Shinn leaps into the air and boosts toward one of the Minerva's wings, two small dark objects fly by just over the Gundam's head, rocketing toward the Minerva. Neo tells Sting and Auel that the Workers have arrived, and tells them to pull away from the Minerva to make it easier for Stellar to concentrate. Heine, the left leg of his ZAKU completely torn off, lunges at Sting's Windam, tackling the enemy mobile suit and sending the two of them crashing onto the tarmac. The two PICES-Workers--tiny black aircraft, equipped with a myriad of optical sensors and a single beam cannon mounted in the nose--fly around the Minerva in tight circles and sharp arc, easily dodging the anti-air fire from the Minerva itself, as well as shots from the ZAFT mobile suits rushing out to defend the base. Shinn fires a barrage of missiles at the Workers as they bombard the Minerva's hull with bright flashes of beam energy, charring huge chunks of the ship black. The drones, however, easily dodge each of the missiles with stunning precision, relentlessly gutting the Minerva and sending billowing clouds of acrid smoke up into the evening sky.

Talia orders all of the allied mobile suits to gather at the Minerva's location to shoot down the drones. Arthur, shocked, wonders what the hell is making the drones so hard to fight. Neo, Sting and Auel continue to fight with the various CGUEs and DINNs defending the base. Lunamaria limps toward the Minerva's deck, hoping for a quick repair, while Rey's quadrupedal Gaia Gundam gallops toward the Phantom Pain Windams, engaging all three Atlas mobile suits in a close range melee-fight. Rey tells Shinn that he'll keep the Windams occupied, and tells Shinn to hurry up and take care of the drones before they sink the Minerva. Shinn nods his head and moves in to attack the drones, but suddenly stops.

The cockpit of the Impulse Gundam goes completely silent. The flames running up and down the Minerva's hull seem to stop. The entire battlefield seems to be moving in slow-motion. Shinn starts to hear a faint noise. More curious than apprehensive, Shinn begins looking around for the source of the strange noise--a noise that only he can hear. Shinn's eyes lock on to a single point in the far distance, and he smiles, telling himself that he's found it. The battlefield returns to normal, and Shinn suddenly hears Meyrin's voice worriedly asking him what's wrong. Shinn tells Meyrin that he's going to go check something out. Meyrin begins to panic, angrily asking Shinn what he's doing. Shinn doesn't seem to hear her. On the bridge, Talia hears Meyrin's panicked voice and asks her what the problem is. Meyrin tells Talia that Shinn is leaving the combat area. Arthur, just as shocked by this information as Talia, asks what the hell Shinn is thinking. Meyrin looks down and says that Shinn's stopped responding to her hails. Talia clenches her fist as the Minerva tilts to the side and shudders under the constant assault of the PICES-Workers.

Several kilometers away, inside the belly of a very large, very antique-looking transport plane, Stellar Lousier moves her arms in a gentle dance, swaying them back and forth in a complex pattern. At the Izmir base, the movements of the Atlas drones mirror the movements of Stellar's hands directly, as she controls them by way of the PICES over a distance of nearly six kilometers. A large white skullcap is attached to the back of Stellar's skull, with dozens of thick wires and narrow cables stretching upward to the main PICES device in the ceiling. Stellar herself is sitting in a single chair in the middle of the room, humming a song to herself as she directs the movement and attacks of the PICES-Workers in distant battle. One of the small windows on the side of the aircraft's fuselage lights up, however, as a pair of bright red beams cut through the nearby air. The airplane tilts sharply to the side to avoid the unexpected attack, causing Stellar to momentarily lose her concentration and let her left hand fall. At the Izmir base, one of the drones dips into a sharp dive just before firing it's beam cannon. The shot of energy harmlessly dissipates into the air just before several shells from a CGUE's Gatling cannon shred through the Worker's soft armor.

Stellar marvels at the fact that a ZAFT pilot was able to approach her without her knowledge, and then smiles to herself, saying that anyone that capable deserves a special treat. With her right hand still directing the combat of a PICES-Worker at Izmir, Stellar's right hand takes control of a third drone inside of the transport plane's rear cargo-bay. The drone blasts a hole through the side of the plane with its beam cannon and flies at Shinn's Impulse Gundam. Shinn exchanges several shots with the drone but is unable to land even a glancing hit. The Worker flies straight at Shinn, firing it's beam cannon at close range. Unable to dodge, Shinn brings up the Impulse Gundam's twin weapon pods between himself and the attack, sacrificing the Gundam's weapons in order to spare his own life.

As the weapon pods disintegrate in the blast, Shinn curse again. Finally realizing that the only way to stop the drones is to take out the aircraft, Shinn boosts up toward it, brandishing one of the Impulse Gundam's spare beam sabers in each hand. As he gets closer, the sound in Shinn's head becomes more and more pronounced. Soon, the sound becomes sounds. Multiple notes of a song. The melody that Shinn hears is the same melody Stellar is humming as she controls the Workers in their attacks. For a moment, time stops again and Shinn sees a fleeting image of Stellar's face. Inside of the aircraft, Stellar, too, sees a fleeting glimpse of Shinn's face. At that one moment each wonders who the other is. Unfazed by the strangeness of the encounter, Shinn's lunges at the aircraft, plunging both beam sabers into the cockpit of the Atlas airplane. As the cockpit erupts in a plume of orange flame, the third PICES-Worker crashes into the Impulse from behind, forcing the Gundam into the molten wreckage of the airplane's cockpit as the two, now bonded in flame, fall to the ground.

Shinn opens up the Impulse Gundam's cockpit and leaps, grabbing a small parachute with him. Strapping the parachute around him as he jumps, Shinn opens the chute as soon as he can, only a few hundred meters above the ground. The chute opens, and Shinn glides down to a very rough landing in a bed of rocks, dirt, and thick, gnarled tree-roots. Flipping head-over-heels a half dozen times before coming to a stop, Shinn groans and wipes blood away from his face as the Atlas airplane explodes in the distance. Shinn tries to stand up, but his arm is broken and he can't support his own weight. Eventually Shinn manages to turn himself over so that he is lying back-down in the dirt. As he slowly becomes aware of the adrenaline pumping through his system, Shinn raises the hand on his unbroken arm to the sky and starts laughing, extremely grateful--and more than a little surprised--to be alive.

At Izmir the Minerva shudders to the ground, it's left wing cutting through a building as it crash-lands on the tarmac. Neo sees the third drone suddenly stop and crash to the ground, and realizes immediately that something must have happened at the control site. He then orders Sting and Auel to pull back, and the three Windams leave. As smoke pours out of dozens of wounds strewn across the Minerva's hull, Lunamaria throws her pilot's helmet against a bulkhead, smashing her fist against the steel wall in frustration. Staring up at a starry sky, Shinn keeps smiling. The stars slowly come out, first a few and then many, and soon a brilliant starry sky is revealed in the heavens, obscured partly the the ever-present cloud of Junon's dust, but still very visible. Shinn hears the click of a pistol's hammer cocking, and looks back to see Stellar pointing a gun at his head. Shinn stares at the muzzle of the weapon for a moment and then turns his head back to look at the sky. Softly, his face very calm as we stares heavenward, Shinn says to Stellar: "It's a nice evening, isn't it?"

Next Episode: The Wolf That Cries In The Night

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Episode 21: The Wolf That Cries In The Night

The Minerva rests at a slant, pressed against the charred tarmac of ZAFT's Izmir base as the sun rises over the horizon, breathing soft light to the former battleground. Acrid black smoke billows out of a gaping hole in the Minerva's prow, just below the mobile suit hangar. Dozens of tiny mechanized infantrymen clamber up and down the ship's hull, spraying a thick fire-retardant foam over the parts of the vessel still burning. A large pile of blackened concrete and twisted, burnt steel covers the Minerva's starboard wing, pinning the large warship to the ground. The rubble is decorated with a patchwork or red and black, marking the remains of those individuals unlucky enough to still be inside the building when it collapsed.

Most of the Izmir base was in ruins. Very few buildings were still standing, and those that were still standing were mostly on fire. Several large green-canvas tents were hurriedly set up in as many rubble-free areas as possible, serving as makeshift hospitals to accommodate the injured and command centers to facilitate the numerous relief and repair efforts underway. Inside Captain Talia Gladys' office, located just beyond the Minerva's bridge, a stern-faced ZAFT officer--apparently the acting commander of Izmir--informs Talia that they've already sent in a request to ZAFT forces stationed in Greece for immediate aid. They should bring in the necessary materials to fully repair the Minerva, but they won't arrive until the next day. Until that time, the Minerva is grounded.

Talia asks the commander if there are any mobile suits still operational that might be used to search for the Impulse Gundam and its pilot. The commander sighs and tells here that the only mobile suits that are operational are two old GINN-trainers. They're currently being used as base defense, but even if they could be spared they wouldn't be much good in search-and-rescue operations. The commander apologizes and says it's a shame, the Impulse' pilot probably saved all their lives. The commander expresses his disbelief that the pilot was able to locate the source of the attacking drones, reiterating the point that they'd all be goners if not for his actions. Talia reminds the commander that Shinn still disobeyed orders, and the commander shrugs, saying that of course he'll have to be punished--but a few words of thanks wouldn't be too bad of a thing. The commander then says that he hopes to God that there won't be another Atlas attack any time soon; he didn't come down to Earth to fight a war, after all.

Leaning against a tree with a tight metal chord banded around his arms, Shinn sighs as Stellar moves about collecting small bits of wood. Dark clouds are moving overhead at a decent pace, dividing the sky into gray and dark-gray halves, indicating an impending rainstorm. Stellar purses her lips and looks around, scanning the immediate area for shelter. The cargo plane had crashed high upon a nearby cliff, along with the Impulse Gundam, and shattered to pieces. The landscape was rocky and barren. Trees dotted the area, to be sure, but all were long-since dead and far too brittle to be of much use as shelter.

Shinn coughs and Stellar whips around to glare it him. Shinn sighs and tells her he doesn't plan on doing anything--he does all of his fighting from the comfort of a cockpit. Stellar lowers the gun and Shinn tells her that she ought to untie her; it will get pretty nasty soon, and if they don't work together things will get very unpleasant for the both of them. Stellar tells Shinn he sounds like he has a lot of experience with this kind of thing, half jokingly, and Shinn agrees. Telling her he's been in similar situations more often than he'd like. Groaning, Shinn leans his head back and says he can't believe he trashed his mobile suit, and wonders what kind of punishment he'll get when he returns to the Minerva. Stellar smiles at this, and removes the ammo clip from her pistol, tossing it to the ground. With one swift kick she smashes the weapon with her heel. Shinn shocked, asks Stellar what she's doing and she responds that Shinn isn't much like what she expected a ZAFT pilot to be. Withdrawing a slender dagger from her sleeve, Stellar cuts through the rope at Shinn's hands and ankles and says that they might as well work together. Besides, she says, even unarmed she'd be able to kill him in a moment if he tried anything.

The low sound of thunder rumbles in the distance. For a while, Shinn and Stellar busy themselves in silence, collecting a growing stack of dry wood in a pile. Stellar watches Shinn out of the corner of her eye, but Shinn seems content to do as he's told. As the first few drops of rain fall, Stellar uses the gunpowder from one of her bullet shells to ignite the pile of wood into a large fire. The two of them then sit down near to the flame; Stellar wraps a torn pilot's suit over her shoulders to shield herself from the rain while Shinn tears an army-green emergency blanket from the wreckage of the aircraft, cutting his cheek on spindly point of twisted metal. Swiftly wiping the blood away, Shinn returns to Stellar and drapes the blanket over the two of them. They sit in silence for a while; when Shinn moves to wipe more blood from the side of his face, Stellar grabs his hand and tells him not too. Smiling gently, she tells him that the blood will clot faster if he leaves it alone. A huge flash of lighting illuminates the area, and the rain begins to fall in a torrent. The accompanied blast of thunder shakes the ground and prompts Stellar to let loose an unguarded scream of terror, as she unconsciously clutches Shinn's shoulder and winces. Shinn moves his arm over her shoulder reassuringly, and looks skyward as the rain falls with a slightly confused--yet oddly contented--expression on his face.

Inside a large well-lit meeting room, centered around a large circular table, the various leaders of Atlas are engaged in a heated discussion of the war. Henne and Djibril argue about the nature of the war; Henne emphasizing that only military personell be targeted, and Djibril pushing for a more open form of war--attacking anyone that allies themselves, politically or ideologically, with the ZAFT's Destiny Plan. The leadership of Atlas is divided down the middle between those who support total war and those who seek more limited forms of engagement. As the two sides argue and bicker with one another, a slow montage of scenes depict events that are happening concurrently throughout the world.

Somewhere in the Black Sea, the Archangel--still captained by Murrue Ramius--meets up of Kira and Lacus with ORB's 8th fleet. At Onogoro Cagalli is swamped with a mountain of paperwork and wonders at the bizarre absences of Yuuna Roma Seiran, who has been disappearing with an unfortunate frequency lately. Djibril's rhetoric for increasing the war soon escalates into the same racial mantras so-ofter used by Blue Cosmos, causing Sai Argyle to join the shouting fray, still at the side of Richard Henne. Henne remains silent, and waits for Djibril to exhaust his mouth before standing up and silencing the room. Henne tells the assembled leaders of Atlas that he can see the logic for upping the ante, but he worries about the motivations of some of the members. He says that for the moment, so long as they all share the same goal there shouldn't be any problem. Henne then states that for the moment, Atlas will limit its attacks solely to military installations. Sitting at the opposite end of the table, Yuuna Roma Seiran stands up and says that it's still not enough. To stop the Destiny Plan they have to assault it directly. Attack the colony ships before they can be loaded up with people. If they can make the Destiny Plan cost PLANT more and more money to finish, the more likely it is that Durandel will simply concede the autonomy of the remaining Earth nations. Henne says he will think about it, and adjourns the meeting. As he follows Henne out of the meeting room, Sai glances at Yuuna and Djibril--as the two move to speak to one another privately--with open suspicion.

Meyrin Hawke walks into the lounge of the Minerva; only Rey and her sister are in the room. Rey is relaxing on a couch watching a news report on a screen showing Ezalia Joule's public speech in honor of the many members of the Supreme Council that lost their lives in Atlas' initial attack. Lunamaria is sitting in a chair at the table reading a book while fiddling with a small brown box, turning it over on itself again and again seemingly without notice. Meyrin approaches her sister and starts to say something, but Luna doesn't respond. Meyrin grimaces slightly and laughs a bit to herself before turning away and sitting down next to Rey. Meyrin says that the captain (Talia) said that after the attack on Izmir last night, odds are Atlas wouldn't make another move for some time. She sighs and says it's a good thing too--it'd be a shame if Atlas attacked the colony ships tonight. Over forty-thousand evacuees from the Turkey-region were all going to be blasted into space at once. Rey says that there's no reason to think Atlas would start attacking civilians now; they've demonstrated remarkable honor on the field of battle. Ignoring Rey's words, Meyrin sighs and says she'd love to see the sight of all those giant drop ships lifting off at once.

The room shakes slightly and Meyrin asks what's going on. Lunamaria doesn't say anything; Rey tells Meyrin that several nearby ZAFT ships in the area had arrived, and that the search for the Impulse was just starting. Rey says that Shinn will be back before nightfall. Hearing Rey's words, Luna snorts, and says that Shinn is probably dead. Meyrin frowns, wondering why her sister is in such a bad mood. Rey shrugs and says he was right about it last time, and Luna glares at him before going back to her book. Meyrin leans in close to Rey and asks him why Luna is so angry. Rey rolls his eyes and states that Lunamaria was just promoted. Meyrin looks confused.

After a moment of thought, she stands up and moves to her sister. As she starts to ask Luna why she's so angry if she got promoted, Lunamaria hurls the brown box in her hand against the wall with a great deal of force, her eyebrows furrowing in frustration. The box slides open and a small badge falls out, indicating Lunamaria's new rank. Luna grinds her teeth and says she shouldn't get promoted for losing. Rey looks away. Luna crosses her arms and Meyrin moves to sit next to her sister, touching her arm as Luna grips her head. A crack of thunder shakes the Minerva; at the same time as the thunderclap the brief sound of a chime is heard. Rey looks up and says so softly that no one else can here "they've found him."

Shinn and Stellar, their bodies pressed against each other for warmth as the rain continues to pelt them, watch grimly as the once large fire begins to dwindle; getting smaller and smaller and almost seeming to disappear with each strong gust of wind. Shinn looks a Stellar for a moment, and then asks her why she's fighting for Atlas--she doesn't seem like the kind of person that would fight--especially against something like the Destiny Plan. It's the only hope the people of Earth have left. Stellar tells him that she doesn't really care about the Destiny Plan or Atlas. She's just fighting for the moment because that's what she needs to do. She won't be with Atlas for the much longer, and then she can go on to do the work that really matters. Shinn asks her what she means, but Stellar just smiles and whispers that it's a secret. After a moment's silence, Shinn asks Stellar where she's from. Stellar looks up and Shinn surmises that she's not from Earth. Stellar confirms this. Shinn asks her why she came to Earth, and Stellar says that she came because her brother always wanted to see the Earth, and this was the only way they could do that.

Shinn, curious, starts to ask Stellar about her brother. Stellar replies--very swiftly--that he's an idiot, but a good idiot. She says that when they were little, they were all each other had. Her brother would cry if he wasn't with her. He still does, she says. Not cry, though. Stellar says that even now when she's not around her brother doesn't know quite what to do with himself. He can't act normally on his own. Stellar asks Shinn if he knows what that kind of close relationship is like. Shinn says he doesn't really know; he lost his family--and his sister--in the previous war. Stellar leans in close to Shinn, their faces almost touching, and asks him if he wants her to be his new sister. Shinn's face reddens and he looks down, sheepishly telling her that it wouldn't be necessary. Seeing how uncomfortable he is, Stellar starts laughing happily. As Stellar laughs, a tiny sliver of light flashes in the distance, within moments two large transport helicopters fly overhead, floodlights searching the ground. Landing, dozens of ZAFT soldiers rush out and surround Stellar. Standing up and putting her hands behind her head, Stellar comments that things don't look too good for her. Shinn stands up as well and tells her not to worry. Stellar turns to Shinn as the barrel of an assault rifle is pressed against the nape of her neck and tells him she won't.

At the Atlas compound in Edirne, Auel Loussier confronts Neo, demanding to know what happened to the PICES-control aircraft. Neo tells Auel that the plane had some engine difficulty and had to depart. Auel, angry, starts to shout at Neo but Neo brushes him off. He tells Auel to be patient and wait and his sister will be back before noon tomorrow. Neo then leaves Auel to fume by himself in the mobile suit garage, approaching Sting Oakley and drawing him off to the side. Sting asks Neo what happened and Neo says tells him that a ZAFT mobile suit discovered and shot down the PICES-control aircraft. Stellar Loussier is currently missing-in-action. Sting is shocked, and says that it shouldn't be possible. Neo's mouth curls into a slight smile and he tells Sting that it would be absurd to think that there was only one pilot in the Earth Sphere with the S-Factor. Neo shrugs and admits that the Factor must have been pretty crude in the ZAFT pilot for them not to notice beforehand. Sting asks Neo what will happen next, and Neo says that ZAFT will most likely capture Stellar by nightfall, but she's a strong girl--she can take care of herself. Neo gestures his head back at Auel and says he's more worried about the temperamental younger sibling. Neo then says that he has something to go and do, and he won't be back for a week or so. Neo asks Sting if he can count on him to keep Auel in check. Sting grimaces and nods, saying he'll do his best--though it won't be an easy task. Neo puts his hand and Sting's shoulder and says nothing ever is before swiftly exiting the room.

Several hours later Auel is pacing back and forth inside a small common room in the Atlas compound. Biting his fingernails, Auel keeps wondering where Stellar is. Sting, sitting down reading a book, quickly becomes irritated with Auel's pacing and tells him to go to bed. Auel starts to whine about missing his sister and Sting tells him to shut up--the sooner he sleeps, the sooner Stellar will get back. Auel grimaces and agrees, leaving the room. As he walks through the halway to his room, Auel stops at a corner as he overhears to mechanics talking to each other. They are talking about the PICES Queen unit, and are carrying multiple burnt pieces of computer circuitry down the hall in a large car. Auel immediately sees an image in his memory of Stellar inside the Control Aircraft being attached the the PICES equipment, Running up the the mechanics he asked them where the wreckage was found. They say they were lucky to salvage what they did--ZAFT left the scene pretty quickly after finding their pilot. The other mechanic sighs and says it's a shame that any survivors would have been capture or killed. Auel's eyes widen and he runs off at a breakneck speed.

Sitting in the common room reading, Sting suddenly falls off from the couch as the building shakes with the rapid sound of succeeding explosions. Jumping up, Sting runs out of the door and nearly trips over one of the mechanics. Seeing the burnt wreckage in their cart, Sting immediately gets a feeling of immense dread. He turns to the mechanics and asks them if they had spoken to Auel that night. One of the mechanics replies in the affirmative and Sting's lower lip starts to quiver. Calling the man a moron, Sting's fist slams into his face and knocks the mechanic to the floor, slamming the poor mans head against the wall and smearing a narrow trail of blood down to the floor. The other mechanic gets frightened and runs off; Sting slams his fist against the wall and mutters to himself that he messed up big time.

Emerging from a flaming hole blasted out of the side of the warehouse, the massive silhouette of a gigantic mobile suit emerges. Inside the mobile suit, decorated with a head-unit reminiscent of the Gundam--Auel Loussier's eyes light up with primal rage. The enormous mobile suit--nearly twice as tall as a typical model, crouches down before leaping into the air, it's massive wings spreading as it takes flight. Sting runs into the middle of the warehouse just in time to see Sting and the Blue Breaker fly away into the overwhelming darkness of the night. Inside the large cockpit of the Blue Breaker, Auel mutters to himself that he'll make ZAFT pay if anything happens to Stellar. A flash of electricity and the familiar chime sound and Auel sees an image of Stellar being led into a cell aboard a ZAFT warship, her hands cuffed. Screaming in rage, Auel rises the Blue Breaker higher and higher, igniting the massive thrusters to their maximum potential.

Outside the ruins of Athens, dozens of massive bulbous drop ships begin to lift off from ZAFT's main base in the Eastern Mediterranean. Twelve dropships, each carrying nearly 4,000 civilians, drawn up from all across Greece and Turkey into the wide fold of the Destiny Plan, lift off in a magnificent display. Dozens of ZAFT aerospace fighters circle the Twelve ships as they slowly lift off, climbing upward into the sky at a lumbering pace. One of the ZAFT fighters suddenly explodes, and a beam of light pierces another, sending it's smoldering remains down to Earth. The radio channels fill with noise as the ZAFT pilots struggle to find out where the attack is coming from. Dozen of DINNs leap off from the tarmac below to confront the unknown attacker. Flying up, the Blue Breaker rushes at a pair of aerospace fighters, approaching the two with its palms open. From within a narrow barrel in the palm of each hand, lances of beam-energy shoot out, igniting the fighters in a sea of orange flame. Auel grinds his teeth as six DINNs fly at him. He slams the massive foot of the Blue Breaker into one, sending it plummeting downward. Two more are crushed by the Blue Breaker's embedded beam-cannons. Auel swings the mobile suits arm at another crushing the cockpit, and grabs a fourth with his enormous had, ripping the head off and spewing hot black oil on the Blue Breaker.

As the DINNs explode in a fury, Auel flies toward the colony dropships, enraged. A single mechanism in the Blue Breaker's wing pops open, shooting out an enormous missile. Dozens of ZAFT fighters and mobile suits struggle to intercept the missile, but Auel guides it with his mind and maneuvers it out of the way of each attack. Approaching one of the dropships, the Missile envelopes itself in a spear of beam energy and shoots through the ship, detonating soon after. Eight more DINNS attack the Blue Breaker as the first colony ship falls, burning. The missile's explosion having completely detonated the vessels innards. Auel shrugs off the attack and all eight DINNs fall to the ground, many of them exploding before they hit it. Free from attackers Auel boosts upward with all the power he can coax out of the Blue Breaker. Just above the clouds--and roughly even in altitude with the remaining eleven dropships, Auel brings the Blue Breaker to an unsteady hover. The ZAFT forces below are decimated, and completely unable to mount a counterattack. Auel once again has a >Newtype flash< and simultaneously launches the remaining nine PICES-guided missiles from the Blue Breaker's wings. Each missile streaks out and unerringly finds its home in the middle of a dropship. One by one nine more dropships explode, the burnt wreckage falling down to Earth as molten rain. Of the two remaining dropships that were not directly attacked, one is forced off course by the wreckage and falls down, exploding on impact. The other falls apart after getting hit by a storm of debris from one of the other dropships. After all twelve dropships are destroyed, Auel starts to laugh. His eyes still full of rage, Auel drops the Blue Breaker straight down, hands glowing with magnetized plasma, and proceeds to slaughter the remaining ZAFT forces while the world around him burns.

Next Episode: Demons Unasked

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Ulgh.... so I'm finishing up the next episode, and I see that once AGAIN I have a post (this time the updated Encyclopedia) that is simply too big. Of course, the BBS doesn't tell me it's too big--it just cuts it off at the limit. ~__~

EDIT: Okay, everything is all organized now. I strongly advise against reading the timeline at the moment because there ARE spoilers for the next episode, but only at the very end. I do think you all ought to check out the updated encyclopedia, though. There are a lot of little additions, like technologies--my versions of Phase and Trans-Phase Shift armor, the PICES stuff, the Lift System, and several other things--including a beefed-up description of ORB, including a new backstory.

My Original Post wrote:
~Independent Colonies Demographics~
Total Citizens ---------------------------------------------------- 2,398,801,341
Original Citizens ------------------------------------------------------ 1,212,768
Destiny-Plan Immigrants --------------------------------------- 2,397,588,573
Average Population/Colony ---------------------------------------- 26,652,248


~PLANT Demographics~
Total PLANT Citizens ---------------------------------------------- 146,061,720
Original PLANT Citizens ------------------------------------------- 111,747,818
Destiny-Plan Immigrants ------------------------------------------- 34,313,902
Average Population/Colony ----------------------------------------- 1,021,411


~Destiny Plan Statistics~
Earth Population Pre-Junon ----------------------------------- 17,133,400,016
Earth Population Post-Junon ------------------------------------ 4,009,199,507
Indpendent Colonies Population ------------------------------------ 1,212,768
PLANT Population --------------------------------------------------- 77,433,916
Total Destiny Plan Immigrants --------------------------------- 2,859,504,912
--To Independent Colonies ------------------------------------- 2,397,588,573
--To PLANT ----------------------------------------------------------34,313,902
--To Other Colonies ----------------------------------------------- 427,602,437
Estimated Remaining Earth Population -------------------------- 700,000,000

Estimated Total Earth Population Pre-Bloody Valentine ---- 31,500,000,000
Estimated Total Earth Population Pre-Junon ----------------- 17,800,000,000
Estimated Total Earth Population Post-Junon ----------------- 3,600,000,000
Estimated Total Earth Population Pst-Destiny ------------------- 700,000,000
Estimated Total Earth Population +20 Years ------------------ 2,850,000,000

Estimated Earth-Sphere Population Pre-Bloody Valentine ----- 500,000,000
Estimated Earth-Sphere Population Pre-Destiny ---------------- 230,000,000
Estimated Earth-Sphere Population Post-Destiny ------------ 3,089,504,912
Estimated Earth-Sphere Population +20 Years --------------- 5,196,547,262


~CE 70 Population Levels~
Earth Surface -------------------------------------------------- 31,500,000,000
Earth Sphere --------------------------------------------------- 32,000,000,000
Jupiter Sphere ----------------------------------------------------- 160,000,000
Other ----------------------------------------------------------------- 15,000,000

*the current period of conflict, which will simply be called the "Junon Wars" (Atlantics v. Eurasia, ZAFT v. Atlas) are not reflected in these statistics, so the post-Junon estimates for Earth could very well be much lower. The Post-Junon statistics are also based SOLELY on the "day-after" so they do not take into account any fatalities that Junon was indirectly responsible for.

It's important to note that while the Earth is in pretty bad shape, if left alone the human population could nearly triple within twenty years. Of course, that would still be a long way toward reclaiming the 15 billion some-odd lives lost with Junon's fall, which only hurt the 15 billion dent left by the BV war.

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Episode 22: Demons Unmasked

In the ancient city of Adana, beyond the decayed buildings of the old city of stone and clay, beyond the ruined urban areas full of pockmarked skyscrapers and collapsed towers, beyond the swarms of refugee camps and bloody fields of battle, hovering above the large military base that had once belonged to the Eurasian Confederacy a half dozen DINNs float slightly around in a lazy circle. The sun slowly rises over the mountains to the east, setting the surface of the Seyhan Nehri river ablaze with fiery orange light. Small aerospace fighter planes fly over the ZAFT forces below, massing in the air above en masse. The old land-warships, built back in the Bloody Valentine War, move away from the base and spread out in a loose perimeter, preparing for an attack. Curt radio chatter buzzes through the tense air as the coordinators prepare for an imminent assault.

Sitting calmly in the grease-encrusted cockpit of the Blue Breaker, Auel Loussier coughs slightly and slams his fist against a button on the upper right side of the cockpit. Massive vents on the Blue Breaker's chest open and expel a vast quantity of steam, while simultaneously recycling the air inside the enormous mobile suit's cockpit. The Blue Breaker itself seems to defy the laws of gravity, sitting motionless high in the air, far above the clouds. Its massive wings spread out, they vibrate and moan lightly as the LIFT-system keeps the overweight monstrosity airborne. Inside the cockpit. Auel displays several monitors of the ZAFT base below, mostly infrared. The aerospace fighters launched from Adana dance just above the clouds, but are still far below Auel's position and take no notice of his presence.

Checking a display, Auel verifies that he has only four missiles left, and quickly remembers his earlier assault on the dropships. Auel vividly remembers cutting through the side of a giant egg-shaped launch-vehicle, smearing plasma across the side of the vessel and opening a massive gash in it's hull. As it slid to the side, Auel sees hundreds of people falling out. Some of them look terrified. Most are too stunned to have any reaction. Some of them are sprayed in the blood of their comrades; all of them fall to their deaths. Auel watches their faces. Back in the present, Auel keels forward, his cheeks welling, and vomits on the floor of the cockpit. Sickened by his memory and guilt, his eyes roll back and he moves his head up and down. Spitting out the last bits of vomit from his mouth, Auel grasps his head firmly, as though he is in a great deal of pain, and asks himself where his sister is. Auel says he needs her. He needs her and he can't control himself otherwise. He'll do bad things. More bad things. Horrible things.

In New York, capital of the Atlantic Federation, Neo Roanoke sits calmly in the back of a large black limo as it rolls down the sparsely populated streets. The damage in New York was a bit harder to discern than elsewhere. A few skyscrapers collapsed in the torrent of earthquakes following Junon, and much of the island of Manhattan was submerged in the early flooding, but much of that water had receded leaving little to mark its presence; a thin layer of dirt and grime, and a persistent pungent smell. The real effect of Junon's fall was found elsewhere. The flak cannons on top of buildings, the tanks and armed soldiers in the streets; the dull, faceless expressions of the citizens as the lethargically moved about their daily lives. Contrary to the improving conditions in the Eastern hemisphere, the sky over the Atlantic coast is still dark and dreary.

The limo pulls to a stop next to a huddled gray building that was little more than a bunker. A tall man with short-cropped gray hair emerges from the bunker and enters the limo, sitting down opposite to Neo. The man is Senator Geoffry Hurst, of the Atlantic Federation's Senate. Neo thanks Hurst for all the support he's managed to give to the Atlas organization, saying that his help was invaluable. Neo praises the Atlantic Federation's intelligence network, saying it was an amazing thing to pinpoint the routes of the ZAFT high-council shuttles. Hurst laughs grimly, stating that even so he was surprised to see Atlas enter the stage with such a flamboyant attack. Neo Roanoke simply states that Atlas is very committed to its beliefs. Hurst sighs and says that the Senate is still deadlocked over what to do. The majority of the Senators, led by Senator Geld, is pressing for war with the Eurasians at the exclusion of all else. Hurst says Geld is a moron, but a popular one. Within this majority the opinion on Atlas and the Destiny plan is very evenly split, Hurst says. Half of the representatives are like-minded, but Senator Treebach's pro-destiny faction is getting more and more forceful each day.

Senator Hurst tells Neo that he will be meeting with Senator Geld before the Senate convenes, and with a little luck he might be able to persuade Geld to overtly support of Atlas. Geld's war with the Eurasian Confederacy is going poorly thanks to the interference from ZAFT, and Geld is getting more and more frustrated with each passing day. Hurst promises that by the end of the day the Atlantic Federation will be in a position to formally ally itself with Atlas. Neo smiles and opens the Limo's door for Hurst as the Limo rolls to a stop outside the steps of the capital. Looking upward at the pale sky, Neo says that he thinks today will be a very, very good day. Hurst hastily walks into the Senate Building; Neo shuts the Limo's door and approaches the driver from outside. The driver rolls down his window and Neo slips the man a large bill of rolled-up dollar bills. The driver nods, and the Limo speed away. Neo sighs and wipes a bit of dirt from the side of his helmet. Feeling conspicuous, we follows after Hurst into the Senate Building.

Inside the brig of the Minerva, Arthur Trine stands at the head of a small table, interrogating the captured Atlas officer, Stellar Loussier. Stellar, slumped back in her chair looks bored; Arthur wears a bewildered expression. Dozens of maps and documents are strewn across the small table. Arthur asks Stellar if there's anything else she'd like to share, Stellar tells him she's already say everything can say. Arthur calls picks up the material from the desk and approaches the door, signaling a uniformed ZAFT guard to return Stellar to her cell. Leaving the room himself, Arthur activates a wall-mounted communication panel and informs the captain, Talia Gladys, that he needs to speak with her. The ZAFT guard roughly pushes Stellar into her cell and informs her that someone will be around with her meal. Stellar says she's hungry and asks him how long that will be, but the guard just grins menacingly and walks off.

Neo peers into a small meeting room to see Hurst and Geld speaking to each other, each man wearing an odd excited look to him. Reaching into the side of his suit, Neo pulls out a small yellow disc, about five centimeters thick and sixteen centimeters in diameter. Lifting a small potted plant off of a nearby table, Neo places the yellow disc directly underneath. Pressing a hidden button on the side of the disc, a small red LED begins to blink slowly. Neo walks away. Finding Senator Treebach, flanked by dozens of minor aids and several of his supporters, Neo informs them that there's an emergency and they need to leave the building. Treebach greets Neo as a friend, and asks what's wrong. Neo says there is a matter of the utmost urgency requiring Treebach's attention. The Senator follows Neo outside. The two men cross the street. Neo yanks Treebach to get him further away from the Senate building faster. Inside, the yellow disc's red light begins to blink at a slowly accelerating pace.

Neo tells Treebach that Atlas is planning to assassinate him for his advocacy of the Destiny Plan. Treebach says it's absurd, all he's doing is trying to lead the Atlantic Federation to the best possible future. Neo shrugs and tells him that the people in Atlas are all zealots--you're either an ally, or your an enemy, and Atlas doesn't like to leave its enemies alive. Neo tells Treebach that he needs to get the senator to a safe place as soon as possible. Inside the Senate Building, Hurst and Geld are still talking with one another, and seem to be in agreement. The red LED on Neo's yellow disc flashes rapidly, soon becoming almost solid. Then the light winks out and the disc detonate. A cacophonous roar shatters the building, collapsing the roof and sending a plume of smoke and flame in every direction. Outside, Treebach starts to run toward the building but Neo grabs him from behind, stopping him. Breaking free of Neo's grasp, Treebach runs inside the bombed building, only to be knocked down on his back when a second bomb detonates. Neo smiles grimly and walks away.

Inside Talia's office, Arthur sets down the stack of papers from the interrogation and tells Talia that Stellar appears to be little more than a mercenary. Talia asks what a mercenary would be doing with any kind of advanced weaponry, like the remote weapons that nearly sunk the Minerva, and Arthur shrugs, telling Talia that it's the only possible explanation. Spreading out the maps on Talia's desk, Arthur says that there's no other explanation: Stellar gave up the locations of dozens of Atlas cells all across the Mediterranean region. Names, locations, troop strength--everything. Talia wonders whether or not the information was fabricated, and Arthur tells her that everything Stellar said will, of course, need to be verified.

Then, Arthur starts to get excited. Pulling out a single large map of Turkey, Arthur says that Stellar told him something incredible--the location of Atlas' headquarters. Arthur reports that during the Bloody Valentine War, the Eurasian Confederacy constructed a large underground city, hidden away from the rest of the world, as a refuge in case of an all-out nuclear attack by PLANT. The project was abandoned during the Energy Crisis, but the subterranean city remained. Built deep under the bowels of Istanbul--beneath the ruins of Byzantium and Constantinople, nearly three miles beneath the Earth's surface--was Gaia, the general headquarters of Atlas. Talia face goes white and she stands up from her desk and says that if it's true, it will be a godsend. ZAFT can't afford to keep fighting Atlas.

Surprised at Talia's reaction, Arthur asks her what's wrong. Talia's shoulder's slump and she turns on the large monitor on her desk, rotating it so that Arthur can see. Images flash across the screen--many of poor quality--depicting the Blue Breaker in combat with ZAFT mobile suits. Talia says that the unknown mobile suit attacked the ZAFT base in Greece two days ago, shooting down twelve colony ships. Arthur gasps at the news. Talia says that nearly fifty-thousand civilians were killed in the attack. The monitor switches to video. This time, the Blue-Breaker is smashing into a ZAFT fleet in the Aegean Sea, punching holes through the hulls of the vessels and blasting the defending mobile suits into smithereens. Talia informs Arthur that the footage is from an attack yesterday; following the annihilation of the fleet, the unknown mobile suit flew East and destroyed a ZAFT supply convoy. Arthur says that the mobile suit is a demon; Talia grimaces. Talia states that ZAFT believes the unknown mobile suit--the Demon--will attack the base at Adana next, and the Minerva has been ordered to reinforce the base.

At the mention of Adana, Arthur's eyes widen and he asks Talia if the hundred-thousand civilians there, waiting for their ships into space, would be evacuated. Talia frowns, stating that ZAFT is keeping the civilians at Adana, where they can be protected. Arthur says that it will be difficult; the Minerva can barely fly, let alone fight, and she only has a few operation mobile suits that can fight. Talia tells Arthur that verification of the interrogation will have to wait until after they deal with the Demon. Arthur agrees; it will be a hard fight, but one they cannot afford to run away from.

The Minerva shudders up from the blasted Izmir tarmac; the ship is pockmarked with black holes and burnt gashes through the armor, but miraculously it manages to rise into the air and set sail for Adana. Several hours later, Shinn Asuka lifts a tray of food from the counter in the Minerva's mess hall, nodding briefly at the greasy cook on the other side, Shinn leaves the room and heads toward the brig. Leaning down on the bare metal cot in her cell, Stellar seems asleep when Shinn walks into the brig. Shinn unlocks the barred door and it creaks as it opens. Stellar, her eyes still sniffs the air, catching the scent of the food. She sits up abruptly and starts to complain about how long she had to wait--then she notices that it's Shinn, and smiles slightly. Shinn sets the tray of food down on the bench, but then notices a large purple bruise on Stellar's wrist. Looking at her with poorly-masked concern, Shinn asks her what happened. Stellar notes that ZAFT officers seem to be sorely lacking in discipline. Shinn says that they wouldn't have to be rough on her if she would just talk, but doesn't sound convinced.

Stellar starts to eat her food, shrugging. She is talking, she says. Quite a bit. Stellar says she's told ZAFT enough about Atlas to end the war inside of a week. Shinn, somewhat shocked, asks Stellar why she'd betray her comrades like that. Stellar reminds Shinn that she already told him she wasn't with Atlas, saying that Atlas is just as much of an enemy to her as it is to him. Shinn looks confused. Stellar smiles, flashing her teeth as she stuff her mouth with food. For someone who's being so cooperative, Stellar says, she sure isn't getting treated to well. Shinn reflexively apologizes and Stellar laughs. Shinn smiles nervously and Stellar asks him if he wouldn't mind sitting down and talking to her. Shinn considers it for a moment, but then agrees. Sitting down beside Stellar while she ate the remaining crumbs on her tray, Stellar begins to ask Shinn question about himself and his family. The two quickly fall into a deep rapport of the kind usually seen only with people that know each other exceedingly well, and soon are laughing and joking together, forgetting the war, the situation between them, and everything but themselves.

Flying through the air in his custom-colored C2 Windam, Neo watches a static-filled news report, showing Senator Treebach addressing the citizenry of the Atlantic Federation. Treebach announced the deaths of most of the Senate--including senators Geld and Hurst--and accuses Atlas of perpetrating the bombing. Treebach says that Atlas will go to any means necessary to fight their bigoted racial war against coordinators, and that the Senate was attacked to prevent the Federation from traveling down the only road leading to survival--the Destiny Plan. Treebach goes on to state that the Atlantic Federation will not be cowed by petty acts of terrorism, and declares that the Atlantic Federation's war with Eurasia is over. From now on, the Federation will dedicate itself solely to the Space Emigration Project proposed by Gilbert Durandel--it is the nation's only hope for survival. The end of the Senator's speech is drowned out with thunderous applause; Neo shuts off the news broadcast, seeing a small yellow reticle blinking at the edge of the Windam's monitor. Zooming in on the blinking reticle, Neo spots a single ORB mobile suit--a Strike II Gundam painted in austere blue--fighting against a trio of ZAFT mobile suits, similar to ZAKUs but sporting large back-mounted wings and painted a dark black. Neo draws the Windam to a stop and lands it atop a hill with a good vantage point of the battle. Neo smiles slyly, commenting to himself that Kira Yamato was a tough person to track down.

Outnumbered three-to-one and in a mobile suit designed for aerial operation, Kira Yamato was at a severe disadvantage. Leading the other two black ZAKUs, Jarrod Crux--of ZAFT's elite Panzer Squadron--lunged at the Strike II with a beam saber in each hand. The other two ZAKUs prevented Kira from dodging the attack, but by igniting the left thruster pod on the giant backpack, Kira was able to spin the Strike II around swiftly, avoiding what would have been a fatal attack by a hair. Kicking Crux's ZAKU away Kira leaped backwards. One of the other ZAKUs started to attack, but Jarrod waved him off, declaring that he would defeat the Gundam by himself. Igniting the hi-output beam saber, Kira raised the Strike II's arm and drove the unstable energy blade into the Gundam's backpack, severing the massive wings and aerial thrusters. The giant backpack fell to the ground with a crash, and the much lighter and more mobile Strike II burst toward Crux's ZAKU with unexpected speed. Not expecting Kira's actions, Crux was taken by surprise. The hi-output beam saber cut through the ZAKU's armor, opening a gash in the torso and removing an arm. Unable to return the beam saber to the back-mounted recharge rack, Kira tossed threw the weapon at the head of another ZAKU, aggravating the pilot.

Cursing, Jarrod Crux drives his ZAKU backward and commands his two subordinates to attack the Strike II all out. The two mobile suits lunge at Kira, but the Strike II is much more agile now that it no longer has its backpack attached, and Kira jumps it into the air, slamming the Gundam's right foot on top of one of the ZAKU's, crushing it's cockpit. As the mobile suit implodes beneath the Strike II Gundam's foot, Kira looses his balance and falls to the ground. Kira struggles to get the Strike II standing again, but it's foot is grounded inside of the ZAKU's torso, pinning the Gundam to the ground. Jarrod and the other ZAKU pilot slowly approach the grounded Strike II, ready to deliver the deathblow. Each ZAKU raising a beam saber directly above the Strike II's head, they simultaneously thrust downward.

Each ZAKU's arm, however, explodes in a flash of light as a beam lances out from the distance. Flying at the ZAFT mobile suits and firing an explosive volley of beam energy, Neo Roanoke's C2 Windam forces the two ZAKUs to halt their attack and try to regroup. Too damaged to sustain the fight, Jarrod Crux reluctantly pulls back, the one remaining black ZAKU following after him. The Windam comes to a landing in front of the Strike II, and Neo pries the Gundam's leg free from the ZAKU's corpse. The Strike II sits up and Kira opens the cockpit; Neo does the same thing. Kira thanks Neo for helping him, but looks at the Atlas mobile suit suspiciously. Neo grins, his mouth curled into an almost ecstatic expression. After a moment's pause, Neo asks if the pilot of the Strike II is Kira Yamato. Kira's enhanced reflexes sweep into action as he pulls a gun out from behind the seat and points it at Neo. At the same time he pulls out the gun, Kira lifts up one of the Strike II's legs putting the mobile suit into a kneeling position, fully prepared for combat. Neo shakes his head slightly and waves down Kira's gun. Stepping out of the Windam's cockpit, Neo tells Kira that he has some things he would very much like to discuss with him. Kira hesitates for a moment, and then lowers his weapon.

The sun dips below the tiny slanted window in the top of Stellar's cell, Shinn lifts the empty food tray and moves to exit the cell. Stellar thanks Shinn for spending so much time with her, she was starting to get really depressed all by herself. She then asks him if it was really okay to spend so much time with a prisoner, but Shinn says that he's just a pilot. Without a mobile suit, there's not a lot he can do on the ship. As he's about to walk out the door Stellar grabs Shinn's arm and he turns to face her; facing him directly, Stellar thanks Shinn again and tells him that it really meant a lot to her.

As the sun begins to set, casting the desert landscape in a hellish glow, Auel wipes the sweat from his forehead and slides a small combat knife across his cheek, and then his left and right arms, using the pain to keep himself awake. Breathing hard, Auel takes the Blue Breaker into a steep dive. Two DINNs directly below, still on alert, spot the Blue Breaker falling and try to evade, but the Demon's two massive hands smash on top of the heads of each mobile suit and cut down through the torso, splitting each DINN into two halves that fall and explode. The giant mobile suit spins furiously as a more ZAFT mobile suits rush it, firing off their machine guns and beam rifles with alacrity. The giant Blue Breaker avoids most of the weapons fire and gracefully destroys a dozen more mobile suits with its bare hands.

The Blue Breaker crashes to the ground with a thud; a three DINNs crash around it a moment later, exploding on impact. The Gundam's massive wings fold downward and a battalion of tanks approach the mobile suit. A large panel slides open on the Blue Breaker's torso, rapidly spewing a volley of narrow rockets at the assaulting tanks. Auel runs toward a CGUE and wraps one of the Blue Breaker's massive hands around it's head, firing the palm-mounted beam saber immediately thereafter, decapitating the mobile suit. The ZAFT forces throw everything they can at Auel, but the oversized Blue Breaker swats down the attacking mobile suits like flies. Panting and nearly out of breath, Auel leaps high into the air once more, taking out a handful of tanks and fighters with precision shots from the many embedded beam weapons in the Blue Breaker. Suddenly, Auel hears a strange noise and turns his head away from the battle. His eyes, bloodshot from lack of sleep, strain as they try to focus in on something just beyond sight.

Alone in her cell as night begins to creep across the sky, Stellar Loussier stands atop her bare metal cot and peers out of the tiny window near the top of the low ceiling. Her face sad, a solitary tear falls from eye. Far away, gazing back at his sister, Auel, too, sheds a tear. And smiles with innocent joy.

Next Episode: Kira's Decision

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Last edited by Mwulf on Wed Sep 26, 2007 12:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:29 am 
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A new episode! Time for deconstructive criticism! :P

The political intrigue seems to be escalating, which is good, on the other hand I am not completely on the map as to what Neo's motives are (if they are purposefully unclear I am not just slow in the head). Then the Blue Breaker; it seems to be on a solo rampage and I have to wonder when does it or Auel fully break down due to no ammo/energy/fortitude. He seems to be running on nothing but steam.

Then Kira's introduction in a wild fight Neo seemed to simply fly past was a little surprising. I have great hopes for the way you have written Kira's character up so far, so I am intrigued to see what way his decision (next ep) will take him. And finally, I thought character development between Shinn and Stellar was a bit quick, but I will allow it for their inevitably doomed relationship.

So all in all, you keep the action pumping and the story progresses nicely, but I have to ask if you felt like you needed to squeeze this episode out a bit faster than usual? It does seem to go in several directions, which hasn't been noticeable before.

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*Almost everyone I've killed uttered similar last words.
-Then I am glad once again that you are on my side.
*They've often said that too.


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 Post Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 3:55 pm 
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Well, initially I had this as a four-episode arc (the Auel thing) but re-organizing my outline, I cut one episode, so writing this one I had to move a lot of things back and forth.

As for Neo meeting Kira, yeah, it does feel kind of forced. I've kind of hinted at an active interest in Kira on Neo's part, and it is a fact that Neo IS looking for Kira, but the meeting... kind of forced, yeah. Part of that, though, may simply be me trying to keep the episode from getting too long.

As for Neo's motives, they're pretty vague. What I tried to convey with the Atlantic coup was that even though he's a chief Atlas dude, Neo's actions are still working out to the best interests of Durandel--going back to the whole oath of fealty when they first met.

About the Shinn/Stellar thing being quick, I'm angling for kind of the soul mate/newtype thing where the two just sort of instantly understand one another. Mainly, because I don't want to write out what they're saying because I'd bore myself too quick, and also because they're not going to have a lot of contact and they need to have a deep relationship. Especiall since, as you say, it's doomed. :P

I guess I did feel a bit rushed writing it... it's just been so long since I've written something new. ~__~

As for Auel... his rampage with BB will end in the next episode. Should be... interesting.

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 Post Posted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 2:47 am 
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Quote:
As for Neo's motives, they're pretty vague. What I tried to convey with the Atlantic coup was that even though he's a chief Atlas dude, Neo's actions are still working out to the best interests of Durandel--going back to the whole oath of fealty when they first met.

Oh good then it isn't just my thick head. He seems to playing several directions at once; I wouldn't be surprised if we pulled a "Rau" on everyone and orchestrated a thorough smackdown from which he would arise as the sole victor. I also expect you will be angling in Athrun and Cagalli soon since Kira seems to be making his comeback.

Quote:
About the Shinn/Stellar thing being quick, I'm angling for kind of the soul mate/newtype thing where the two just sort of instantly understand one another. Mainly, because I don't want to write out what they're saying because I'd bore myself too quick, and also because they're not going to have a lot of contact and they need to have a deep relationship. Especially since, as you say, it's doomed.

Ah, romance. Yes. There are times when I am not a horrible cynical old man. :D I understood what you were going for there, and I am glad that works out for someone even in a fictional world, even if it is doomed (as opposed to being simply 'doomed'). :P

By the way, the longer I've thought about the Blue Breaker the better it has started to sound. Especially the name. I suppose sometimes you just have to warm up to the idea. :)

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*Almost everyone I've killed uttered similar last words.
-Then I am glad once again that you are on my side.
*They've often said that too.


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I know he's dead, but I have plans for Rau. Big plans. Best part is, they're coming up fairly soon.

I've made a few minor revisions to the previous episode, the must important being this part:

Episode 22 wrote:
Zooming in on the blinking reticle, Neo spots a single ORB mobile suit--a Strike II Gundam painted in austere blue--fighting against a trio of ZAFT mobile suits, similar to ZAKUs but sporting large back-mounted wings and painted a dark black. Neo draws the Windam to a stop and lands it atop a hill with a good vantage point of the battle. Neo smiles slyly, commenting to himself that Kira Yamato was a tough person to track down.


Basically just removing the happenstance. It really was TOO out of place.

...

Yes, with Kira coming into the picture some of the Seedies will take greater roles. Kira, Lacus, Cagalli and Sai. Athrun... not so much. (hint: read the timeline)

Athrun is doing big, major "hero" things at this time, but they're for another story--or an "aside" story, sort of like an OVA. I suppose I could call them EX Episodes. *considers*

...

Doomed to be doomed? As for the blue breaker... the name came from it being blue, and me wanting it to be an extremely visceral machine. It doesn't defeat or kill opponents--it breaks them. Crushes them. It absolutely dominates the battlefield. Yes, this new episode is quite fun to write. ~__~

I normally wouldn't be spending so much time talking about the story between episodes, but 23 is coming along VERY well--I'm already 1/3rd of the way done, and would do more if I didn't absolutely need to get my sleep tonight. I should have it done in a day or two.

After 23, though, I have some trouble. I'm considering cutting things up a bit so I have two episodes where there was only one, and I also need to hurry up and design a very specific, very cool warship. It's called Excalibur and it's big. It's menacing. --And it's all Durandel's. I'm thinking I'll make the death-star room from Destiny part of the ship--sort of like his private office. :P

Speaking of designs, I've finalized the design (if NOT the color scheme) of Shinn's spiffy new suit, even if it won't appear for a while.

http://img205.imageshack.us/img205/9555/11902083lh3.png

And as you may guess, no, it's not something built directly by PLANT or ZAFT. The final colors will be more of a white-and-cream (with bits of blue) instead of all-blue. But, like I said, I haven't fully decided yet.

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 Post Posted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 4:14 am 
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Quote:
Basically just removing the happenstance. It really was TOO out of place.

A few words can make all the difference. I agree that it is better now. :)

Quote:
Athrun is doing big, major "hero" things at this time, but they're for another story--or an "aside" story, sort of like an OVA. I suppose I could call them EX Episodes. *considers*

Yay, screen-time for the blue-haired one! :P I did reread your timeline again, and again I am struck with the certain similarities our fics have. I suppose that is why I like yours. :D

Quote:
I normally wouldn't be spending so much time talking about the story between episodes, but 23 is coming along VERY well--I'm already 1/3rd of the way done, and would do more if I didn't absolutely need to get my sleep tonight. I should have it done in a day or two.

That always is an awesome feeling when you get it going that well. I've had a few of those, a couple of which are just begging to be posted but since I haven't written jack for a week, I have to get ahead in my current writing before posting anything.

Quote:
Speaking of designs, I've finalized the design (if NOT the color scheme) of Shinn's spiffy new suit, even if it won't appear for a while.

We've seen this in your fanart-thread, correct? Transforming with a big gun. Shinn will have a blast. Literally. Just as long as he won't nick that Gundam from someone. :P

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*Almost everyone I've killed uttered similar last words.
-Then I am glad once again that you are on my side.
*They've often said that too.


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Actually, what I just posted is different from the one in the fanart thread. It's a more... refined design. Compare the wings and head for the big differences. ~__~

Buy yeah, I thought for sure I was going to go to sleep four hours ago. I have class in six hours. Ulgh. But, hey, when I tried to sleep I kept thinking about what I would write, so I opted to stop thinking and start writing. It's worked for me in the past. :P



As for liking each others works because they're kind of similar... yeah, I'll have to agree with that. I'd go into more detail, but now that I'm done with my thing I'm really, really tired. ~__~

*yawn*

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Episode 23: Kira's Decision

Shinn is sitting in his quarters with the lights off, his eyes open, thinking about Stellar--who is still in the brig--when Rey enters. Activating the lights, Rey sits down at his desk and brings up a display of the Gaia Gundam's repair status, noting to himself that the left arm won't be repaired in time for his next sortie. Pausing a moment, Rey turns to Shinn and asks him if he's still troubled about the prisoner. Shinn, annoyed by Rey's choice of words corrects Rey by calling Stellar by name. Rey grins and laughs shortly, telling Shinn that he shouldn't get so emotionally involved with a girl after so little time--no matter how cute she is. Shinn comments that Rey was the same way when they first met Lunamaria Hawke at the academy. Rey sighs and shrugs, commenting that her spell over him was broken the moment she opened her mouth to yell at him. The two laugh together at the shared memory, though Rey's heart doesn't seem to be in it anymore. Shinn suddenly gets serious and says that Stellar isn't a soldier.

Rey reminds Shinn that she's a part of Atlas, but Shinn says it's impossible. She has no reason to fight for Atlas, and she told him herself that she wasn't a part of Atlas at all. Rey moans and tells Shinn that he's a little too trusting. Shinn says that he's not, but there's something different about Stellar--he can somehow sense that she's telling the truth. Rey looks thoughtful for a moment, but quickly covers it up with a curt laugh. Dumping a few miscellaneous items from his pocket, Rey heads to the door telling Shinn he needs to suit up, the Minerva will arrive at Adana in less than twenty minutes, and there are indications that combat is already going on. Rey tells Shinn to stay in is quarters; since he cannot fight without a mobile suit, Shinn needs to stay in a safe place while the Minerva fights. Shinn looks depressed, Rey leaves.

The Strike II Gundam lands on the deck of the ORB carrier clumsily, its legs still unsteady in the wake of battle. Neo Roanoke's C2 Windam follows closely behind, landing on the deck in a crouch after waiting a moment for Kira Yamato to exit the Strike II's cockpit. On the bridge, Lacus observes the Atlas mobile suit with trepidation. Dozens of padded ORB guards swarm around the Windam, while numerous mechanics get to work on the damaged Strike II; Kira leads Neo below deck, to a small sitting room with a single large window overlooking the Black Sea. The water is shrouded in a ghostly light as the final dim rays of the sun settle beyond the horizon.

Neo begins by telling Kira that he's heard quite a bit about the young coordinator. Kira responds with a shrug, not trusting Neo. For a few minutes, Neo dances around what he really wants to discuss. He asks Kira dozens of questions about his family, his childhood, and his time in the Bloody Valentine War. Lacus approaches the room from the hall and looks inside, worried, but she does not enter the room. Eventually, Neo tells Kira why he sought him out. Neo tells Kira that he knows that he has been fighting certain elements within ZAFT by himself, and tells Kira that a friend of his working in the upper-levels of the Atlas leadership would like to help him out. Eavesdropping outside, Lacus wonders who Kira might know in Atlas. Kira is hesitant, and Neo tells him that he is in no hurry to hear a response. All important decisions, Neo says, must be considered very carefully.

A pair of olive gray tanks roll out from an old hangar, each firing its single large cannon at Auel's Blue Breaker. The shells explode on impact, shaking the giant mobile suit and scorching black stains on the mobile suit's side, but otherwise having no effect. Auel, dirty, sweaty and tired from days on unceasing combat, tries to leap the Blue Breaker off the tarmac, but a volley of missiles slam into the front of the torso sending the unit careening on its back. Looking up, almost absent-mindedly at the sky, Auel sees nearly twenty DINN-type mobile suits circling above like turkey vultures, lazily firing barrages of rockets, missiles and armor-piercing shells at Auel's immobile suit.

But the Blue Breaker has a very tough skin, and though it is heavily damaged it is still an exceptionally potent weapon. Gritting his teeth in silence, Auel pulls the Blue Breaker back up and--with audible strain--rotates the twin massive mega-particle cannons on the Gundam's back upward, firing a massive blast of energy at the hovering ZAFT mobile suits. Enveloped in an impossibly wide arc of fire, dozens of DINNs explode immediately. The few that survive scatter into the wind. Acrid black smoke pours out of the Blue Breaker's backside as Auel struggles to reactivate the suits Lift-system. Blue electricity sparks across the Gundam's massive wings, whirring to life as the enormous craft slowly starts to float upward--slow, but getting faster. Rising a few meters into the air Auel lowers the twin mega-particle cannons down over the mobile suit's shoulders and fires again, this time sweeping across the ZAFT Adana base as he fires. The intense golden light carves a streak of destruction across the facility, utterly obliterating infantry, tanks, fighters, mobile suits and building. The heat of the cannons is so great that the left cannon melts at the tip and sputters out, the latter part of the barrel snapping and falling down to the cement below.

Motionless, and for the time being no longer under any direct threat, Auel's bloodshot eyes close. His breathing becomes shallow. A strange noise--like a chime--sounds softly, as though from very far away. Auel's eyes snap open--no longer exhausted, they now seem unnaturally bright. The few surviving ZAFT forces at Adana struggle to regroup beneath Auel's feet, but Auel ignores them. He twists his head back and forth, finally resting on a single bright star, low on the horizon. But it's not a star--it's a ship. The Minerva. For a moment, Auel's mind reaches out and touches his sister's mind and he smiles. Forgetting himself, Auel boosts toward the Minerva at full speed, the Blue Breaker nearly tearing itself apart under the strain. The Minerva's hangar opens. One, two, three white ZAKUs shoot out from the catapult deck. Then a fourth mobile suit, a black one. Auel ignores the new enemies, focusing solely on reaching his sister.

Rey winces in pain as the Gaia Gundam gallops across the land toward the charging Blue Breaker. Rey can sense Auel within, sense Auel's determination, frustration, and joy. Heine's ZAKU team leaps into the air and spins in a half-arc in front of the Blue Breaker, each mobile suit firing a trio of tightly-aimed beams directly at the rampaging Gundam. All nine beams impact the Blue Breaker directly, but Auel does not respond. The ZAKU team begins attacking at their own discretion, firing off their beam rifles like machine guns. Rey swivel's the Gaia's shoulder-mounted beam rifle at the Blue Breaker and, too, opens fire. Auel takes hit after hit, but still charges past the ZAFT mobile suits--straight for the Minerva. Heine is confused, and speculates that the enemy suit wants to sink the Minerva. Rey, certain, tells Heine that the pilot is after the Atlas prisoner they have on board. The Minerva turns to port, facing the Blue Breaker directly. On the bridge, Meyrin and Arthur frantically try to keep the warship in working order. The Minerva's central cannon--the Tannhäuser--tracts outward and fires a brilliant bolt of light toward the Blue Breaker, enveloping the demonic mobile suit in raw energy.

Burnt black by the blast, the Blue Breaker falls crashing to the ground. The wings are twisted, but the lift-system is still operable. Auel struggles to raise the Gundam off the ground, but it is too heavy. Heine's ZAKU team closes fast, guns blazing, and quickly surrounds the downed mobile suit. Auel's eyes widen as he stares desperately at the image of the nearby Minerva and manipulates the controls with reckless haste, but the enormous mobile suit fails to respond. Rey runs the Gaia Gundam past the Blue Breaker, extending the craft's wing-like beam cutters, shearing a layer of armor plating off of Auel's suit. Confident in the Blue Breaker's lethargy, the ZAKU team forms a stationary perimeter around it and proceed to bombard the hapless craft with a constant volley of beam fire. Inside his cockpit, Auel screams and sweats as the Blue Breaker's internal temperature rises beyond dangerous levels. Heine begins to radio the Minerva, informing them that they've downed the demon, when one of the other ZAKU's detonates suddenly.

Sting Oakley's C2 Windam soars over the heads of the ZAKU team, deftly cutting through the torso of one of the ZAFT mobile suits. Sting swings his mobile suit around for another pass as the first ZAKU explodes, preparing his second attack even as Heine's squad reels in surprise. Rey leaps into the air and tackles the Windam, quickly switching the Gaia into it's mobile suit form. Taken by surprise by Rey's dark Gundam, Sting's second strafe is halted, giving Heine and the other ZAKU the time they needed to disperse. Sting spins toward the Gaia with his beam saber active. The two mobile suits exchange blows, but Sting quickly gains the upper hand and knocks Rey back. Rather than press his attack, Sting flies over to the Blue Breaker, still lodged firmly in the ground by the weight of its impact, and tells Auel that he's done enough--it's time to go back home. Auel's eyes are closed and he does not respond. Sting lifts the Blue Breaker up into the air, allowing the barely-active lift-system on the Blue Breaker to reactivate. Sting, guiding the Blue Breaker, tries to lead Auel away from the battlefield, but Auel suddenly becomes violent and smashes the Windam away with a blackened forearm.

The Windam shot like a bullet into the ground, smashing the weak armor in the rear and tearing off one of the large thruster pods mounted on the suit's back. Sting's mobile suit's left leg was twisted at an odd angle, but the Windam had--miraculously--survived the brutal attack. Shaking with rage, Auel uses one of the Blue Breaker's arms to forcibly move the only operation mega-particle cannon down over its shoulder into a firing-position. Rey and Heine cannot help but stare at the spectacle in dread. In her cell, face pressed against the narrow splinter of a window, Stellar shouted vainly at Auel to stop. A tiny pinprick of light flared at the tip of the Blue Breaker's mega-particle cannon. It expanded. A cone of searing light lanced out, directly at the Minerva. The port wing was vaporized in an instant. Dozens of decks were ruptured as the severe heat caused the metal floor to buckle. The mobile suit catapult, central to the ship, melted and twisted into something unrecognizable--burnt, and black. Billowing out enormous clouds of impenetrable black smoke--darker, even, than the night sky--the Minerva shuddered and crashed, it's prow crashing into the ground digging up chunks of dirt and stone even as the metal folded in on itself.

Inside the ship, Lunamaria, who had been manning one of the small weapons turrets, had the back of her head smashed into by a displaced bulkhead. Blood trickled down her cheek as she passed out. On the bridge, Talia Gladys was escorted out by a medic, having taken several pieces of shrapnel into her chest when the windows on the bridge shattered. A nervous, but oddly confident--Arthur Trine assumed command, immediately ordering that the Minerva's reactor be shut down to prevent it from accidentally exploding. Alone in his quarters, the ship slanted at nearly thirty degrees, Shinn could only think of Stellar. So he ran toward the brig.

Enraged by the brutality of the Auel's attack, Rey lunged at the Blue Breaker, followed closely by an equally angry--but more collected--Heine. Auel swings the Blue Breaker's left leg, smashing into the top of the Gaia Gundam, removing the mobile suits head. Rey did not flinch, and neared the Blue Breaker with his beam saber ready, cutting through the mega-particle cannon and falling--alongside the severed barrel--to the ground below. Heine, however, tried to maneuver behind Auel, but Sting saw him and cut him down. Heine's ZAKU lost it's left hand and leg. Nearby, fires were devouring the abused Minerva. Sting again tries to reason with Auel, grabbing onto the Blue Breaker's shoulders, but Auel shrugs him off effortlessly. Heavily damaged from the last attempt, Sting was forced to pull back. Still on the ground Rey fired his beam rifle upward at the Blue Breaker, the beam melting through the Demon's wing, incinerating the Lift-system and sending the Blue Breaker crashing down. But Auel still had limited control, and he angled the descent.

The Blue Breaker's left knee severed as the leg crashed into the torso section of Heine's ZAKU. Auel twisted and hopped backward quickly, slamming the Gundam's right fist into the stomach of the second ZAKU with such force that the upper and lower parts were separated. Bloody, Heine crawled out of the cockpit and fell into the grass, landing with a soggy thud. He tried to move away from the blasted remains of his ZAKU, but could not crawl more than a few meters away before he passed out. Heine's blood soaked into the dirt. Sting could do nothing but wait. Rey, alone, faced the fury of the Blue Breaker.

->>Stop! Stellar screamed, unable to bear witnessing her brother's anguish any more. Her mind reached out, across time and space, and touched her brother's mind. His mind, too, sought to join hers, and for a brief moment they were one. Brother and Sister. There was no one else, just like before--but more than before. Stellar knew Auel's despair, and he knew her grief. Stop. She repeated her plea. I'll be with you soon, she said. Auel smiled, his eyes quickly clear. Stellar smiles at her little brother, and then their connection is broken.<<-

Rey lunged at the Blue Breaker, one last time. With both hands on his beam saber, he cuts through the mobile suit's right arm. Auel, no longer specifically attuned to his sister but still acutely aware of her presence, and her love, looks around. Auel is confused by where he is and what is going on. Rey attacks the Blue Breaker once more--slashing directly against the cockpit. Once. Twice. Three times. With each attack the armor wears thinner and thinner. And then it's gone. The cockpit hatch gives way and Auel sees the Gaia Gundam, blade in hand, standing directly in front of him. Menacing. Ready to kill. But Auel is himself now. He leaps backwards and fires several of the embedded beam cannons, halting the Gaia's attack. Auel realizes that if he dies today, he will not get to see his sister again. She promised she would come back. If he died, he would be betraying her. That could not happen.

Auel attacked. With blinding speed. Twice the size of the Gaia Gundam, the Blue Breaker rushed at Rey, swinging the only weapon it had left--the blunt side of the left arm. Rey, terrified, raised both of the Gaia Gundam's arms up to block. Normally, that would have been enough to halt the attack. But the Gaia Gundam's left arm was still scarred from a previous battle. Barely holding the blow back, the left arm creaked and snapped, bending under the stress.

No! Rey thought. I cannot die now! Images flashed through his head. Of his time at the academy, joking with Shinn and talking to Lunamaria. He remembers laughing with the two of them. Their final exam. The Kreuze Memorial at Delphi. Rey says he cannot die here, there is too much for him left to do. And then the left arm snapped. The Blue Breaker's arm broke through the flimsy barrier and sent the Gaia Gundam hurdling skyward. Sting landed his Windam next to the Blue Breaker, no longer able to move, and helped extricate Auel from the cockpit. Rey, suddenly found himself alone. It was quiet. Where was he? Where was the Gaia Gundam? It was gone. Rey was in the sky, by himself. It was a strange sensation. Rey looked up, expecting stars, but there were none. Rey looked down, and saw below him the battered remnants of the Gaia Gundam falling toward the ground just ahead of him. Rey thought of his friends. Of Heine, and Shinn. Lastly, he thought of Luna. Then he hit the ground.

Inside the Minerva, Shinn rushes into the brig. The cell door is still locked, and Stellar sits inside crying quietly. Auel and Sting are gone. Shinn rushes into the cell and grabs onto Stellar, asking her if she was hurt with great concern. Stellar shakes her head and wipes her tears. It's my brother, she said. Shinn asked her what she meant and Stellar tells him that her brother is ill. He had always been ill, but it had gotten much, much worse since they came to Earth. It was her duty to look after him, she said. Her little brother. Stellar tells Shinn that she has to go back to him,soon, or her brother will die. Shinn, though still concerned, is relieved to see Stellar uninjured. He talks to her for a moment or two more, but is forced to leave to help the rest of the Minerva crew help to recover the ship, and help the many injured in the attack. After Shinn left, Stellar dried her tears. She considered Shinn briefly, and felt a pain in her heart at having to leave him behind, but she had to go back to her little brother. Auel, little baby Auel, needed her.

Neo Roanoke stood serenely at the edge of the carrier's deck. Two old Astray units stood at the back of the ship's deck, but other than that it was bare. Kira approached him, flanked by Lacus, their elbows locked. Kira looks down for a moment, but then stares at Neo eye-to-eye. Kira tells him that he has no plans to join Atlas. As little has he trusts Durandel, he trusts Atlas even less. They can mask their actions in the veneer of righteousness all they want, but Kira says he cannot help but think it a flimsy facade for the same anti-coordinator violence that runs rampant on the Earth. Neo shrugs at the word coordinator and tells Kira that it's a pretty trivial thing to latch on to, but he understands Kira's reluctance. Neo takes step toward Kira and Lacus moves back slightly, angling herself behind Kira.

Neo smiled half-heartedly. Neo then tells Kira that, regardless of his reply, he has two things to tell the young pilot. First, Neo says, whether you will fight with us or not, you are invited to the general headquarters of Atlas to meet with an old acquaintance--friend--of yours. Sai Argyle. Kira is surprised, but hides it well; Lacus moves closer to him. Secondly, Neo says, should you choose to visit mister Sai, I have a particular item I would very much like to show you and hear your thoughts on. Kira, naturally, is suspicious of Neo's offer. Kira tells him that he will not commit to anything, and Neo says that he doesn't expect Kira to do so. For a moment, Kira is silent, debating what to do. Lacus presses against him, worried. Kira extends his hand to Neo, and the two shake: Kira agrees to go with Neo, but does not seem particularly confident with his answer.

Hours after the attack, the beached Minerva was still in a state of chaos. Medics ran from one end of the ship to the other, to the haphazard cities of tents erected outside the downed ship. No one seemed to know what they were doing, but everyone was in a hurry. Exhausted, Shinn walked along the side of the Minerva, and upon coming to a dark spot, far away from the bustle and activity of the relief effort, leaned his back against the warped hull. Shinn rests.

A few minutes later, an exterior door on the hull near Shinn slides open. The interior is dark, and the door is about four meters above the ground. Shinn steps back to see what his happening, when a dark figure leaps down from the door, slamming and elbow into his chest and knocking him down on his back. A knife is at his throat. Shinn's eye's adjust. The specter is Stellar. At the same time, she recognizes Shinn and pulls the blade away. Still pinned to the ground under her knees, Shinn is very confused. He asks Stellar what she's doing. Stellar looks away, ashamed, and tells Shinn that she has to go. She has to go back to her brother. Why? Shinn asks. Because Auel needs her, Stellar says. Stellar bends down and gives Shinn a quick peck on the cheek. She thanks him for talking with her, and says that she really liked him. Stellar pauses for a moment. Then she bends down and gives Shinn another kiss. A deeper one. This time, on the lips. After a prolonged moment, they separate. Stellar whispers, Sorry." And stands up. A serious of thunderous explosions rock the ground. Tiny balls of fire ignite all around the Minerva. The hull directly behind Shinn and Stellar ignites in a halo of orange blaze,. framing Stellar above Shinn as a magnificent, serene silhouette. Alarm sirens sound in the distance. The Minerva burns. Shinn watches as Stellar disappears into the darkness.

Next Episode: Phantom Pains

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Another Day, Another Mishap.

Gundam Seed Fates
ASA (comic)


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 Post Posted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 6:29 am 
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Retconned MSV Ace

Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2006 3:44 am
Posts: 1681
Location: Finland
Dude, you totaled the Minerva. And what really surprised me was that Rey died and Auel lived, when I expected the vice versa to happen. Good stuff, and the Blue Breaker really was the monstrosity you depicted it as! Makes you wonder if they will ever waste money on those lame Destroy-units after this. Although Kira and Neo were kinda left into the background which was odd given the name of the episode.

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-We will not be caught by surprise!
*Almost everyone I've killed uttered similar last words.
-Then I am glad once again that you are on my side.
*They've often said that too.


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