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 Post Posted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:12 pm 
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Creepy Bishonen

Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 7:43 pm
Posts: 243
Location: Illinois, USA
It has, hasn't it? Too bad it's going on hiatus here.

THIS IS NOT THE LAST CHAPTER. This fic will return sometime in 2011. Clear? Good.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Chapter Fifty: Crossroad

He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare, and he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere.
-Ali ibn-Abi-Talib

The surrender became official soon after the Orb fleet showed up. Lunamaria Hawke could take solace in knowing that she and the rest of the ZAFT had dealt the Earth Alliance a Pyrrhic victory, though it had taken the Destroy's "help" to accomplish that.

So many people had died the last few days. What mattered was that Luna wasn't one of them, and neither was her sister.

Meyrin had been quiet since the Minerva had surrendered. That didn't surprise Luna at all.

Shinn Asuka had never returned. Only pieces of his Sword Silhouette had.

That was her sister Shinn had left behind. Luna had practically raised Meyrin. She was closer than an ordinary sister to Luna. Seeing Meyrin struggle not to cry when the Sword Silhouette return, without Shinn, was heartbreaking.

"So," she had said, "He made his choice. I . . . I just want him to be happy, so . . ."

She hadn't been able to finish that sentence. She had said little since, simply hanging near Luna, her head down.

Being taken prisoner wasn't as awful as Luna had expected. Orb wasn't rubbing the ZAFT's defeat in their faces, nor insulting the soldiers or trying to kill them in fits of rage. But then again what little Earth Alliance troops remained weren't in a celebatory mood. They had taken thousands upon thousands of casualties, and, if rumors were true, had lost an entire city to the Destroy.

If it's true, serves them right, Luna thought. They built that thing to begin with. Nice to know they paid the price too.

It was callous of her to think that way and she knew it. But the Earth Alliance was still her enemy. She'd never express jubiliaiton or exaltation over what had happened to the EA, but she wouldn't be crying over their losses. She would be respectful to her captors if they were respectful to her, but she wasn't going to go out of her way to be friendly.

It was the right way to view the situation and the war.

Not to mention that being too provocative could easily endanger Meyrin. If the EA decided to get cruel they could always use Meyrin was leverage. Luna didn't want that to happen, so the smart thing to do was just blend in and not draw attention.

The Hawke sisters were walking next to the captain, Talia Gladys, who had been taken prisoner as well. She was walking upright and proud, her cap still on. She had surrendered honorably and the Orb officer who took her ceremonial sword, somebody named Todaka, had treated her well.

Luna walked over to the captain. "Any idea where they are taking us?"

"They're putting us on shuttles and flying us to Orb," Talia said softly. "We'll be in camps from here on out."

Luna nodded. "Thank you."

She walked back to Meyrin and grabbed Meyrin by the arm. "C'mon. I'd like to guarantee being in the same camp as the captain."

"Okay," Meyrin said softly. She let Luna drag her over to the captain, and the three ZAFT officers walked together.

The shuttle was dead ahead. In front of them, Luna recognized the heads of Arthur Trine and Bart Heim. They had surrendered too.

It's hard to believe that the war's over for me. Unless I feel like fighting for Orb, and I don't.

Orb was well known for openly taking in defectors from both the Earth Alliance and the ZAFT and incorporating them into society fairly quickly. It was just like the Junk Guild from what Luna had heard. But Luna had no love for Earth, in fact, had never set foot on it until the last couple of weeks. In fact, now was the first time she had ever been on solid ground. She had never left the artificial docks and ports when the Minerva had been docked.

So I'm actually on the Earth for the first time.

She had an empty ration can on her. A thought occured to her, and she opened the can, and made sure no crumb of food remained.

She quickly knelt down and scooped some of the sandy soil below her into her hand. She unceremoniously dumped the soil into the circular, metallic can. She closed the lid, and quickly brushed her hands off.

That was easy.

She took off at a run and caught back up to the captain and her sister. Neither of them seemed to notice Luna's "activity".

What had possessed her to do it, anyway?

Maybe I'll never get the chance to touch Earth soil again. Who knows whether the P.O.W. camp is on natural ground or not. If I never set foot on the world . . . well . . . at least I'll have a piece of it with me.

They approached the shuttle, and the ZAFT soldiers were being let on one at a time, Orb soldiers waving them through.

So this is it. The moment I set foot on there, I'm a P.O.W.

Luna briefly entertained thoughts of a dramatic, fanciful escape, but realized it was totally hopeless. Too many people with guns. She'd get slaughtered in seconds, and what would that do for Meyrin anyway?

I am a P.O.W. That's my fate. If Orb doesn't decide to turn cruel, I'll finish this war in peace.

The thought was warm and comforting.

I think I've had enough fighting for a while. That last stand was enough fighting for my entire life.

She looked at Meyrin.

I think she's had enough of the war too. And Shinn.

Luna thought about that young man. He's just as I thought. He used my sister as a pillow to cry to, and first chance he gets he runs off. Coward. He could have told Meyrin he didn't love her.

She hoped her little sister would not become jaded. That would be terrible. Luna liked Meyrin the way she was, warm, trusting, kind. She didn't want Meyrin any other way.

Speaking of someone who ran off . . .

Wait a minute.

"Captain," Luna said. "I don't see Rey anywhere. Have you?"

The captain frowned. "No. I thought he was with us, but . . ."

They were on the stairway now, about to enter the shuttle. There was no sign of Rey za Burrel either in front of behind them.

Luna looked at Meyrin. The younger girl shook her head. "I don't know where he went."

That's funny. You would think he would want to be taken prisoner with us. Unless he found a way to escape.

Luna took one last look outside before entering the shuttle that would take her and Meyrin to their residence for the rest of the war.

Rey, where did you go?
***
Cagalli had managed to give Kira and Lacus a small private room to rest in at the Crete base, and that's where all four of them were, plus Hilda Harken, the one-eyed Coordinator woman who had assisted Cagalli in the final battle against the Destroy.

Right now, everyone's attention was on Cagalli, due to the highly unexpected sentence she had just uttered.

Athrun spoke before anyone else could."You want to what?"

Hilda laughed. "Quite ambitious, my young queen."

Cagalli frowned. "I'm serious. I think I could do it. Take over the Earth Alliance and tear everything rotten out from the top-down."

Athrun's eyes were as wide as dinner plates. "Are you serious? Blue Cosmos will definitely try to kill you! I don't want to lose you!"

Cagalli spun towards Athrun. "Right now, Athrun, Orb is in a positon of strength. We lost hardly anything in that debacle. The Earth Alliance has lost a lot of political capital and many, many soldiers."

"It's opportunistic and exploits the people who died," Athrun said.

"It's so this stupid war can finally end and maybe, just maybe, the ZAFT and Earth Alliance can learn how to respect each other," Cagalli said. "Naomi Mitsuda is not the woman who can lead the Earth Alliance into an understanding with the ZAFT. I can."

Athrun looked away. "It's still dangerous."

"Everything is dangerous for us," Cagalli said.

Hilda sighed. "If you're going to make a move like that, make it fast. You can't let Ms. Mitsuda have the chance to recover from this scandal."

Kira just shook his head. None of the three noticed the elephant in the room: him.

"I flew the thing," Kira finally said.

Everyone looked at him.

"It'll come out that I flew it, that Morgenroete constructed it after being given the design by Adukov. We're just as guilty as Blue Cosmos in this, me most of all."

Cagalli shook her head. "I'm not letting you take the fall for me, Kira. The last thing I will have is you in front of some war crimes court. You told me what the Earth Alliance did to you. They drove you insane."

"Insanity doesn't excuse me," Kira said. "I . . . I killed so many pe\ople. Hurt others. Look at what I did to Lacus!"

Kira turned and pointed at her, and Lacus' eyes widened, and she looked away, as if in shame. Kira immediately felt something weigh his chest down, and he felt nothing but guilt for pointing at Lacus, as if she was at fault for what happened.

As if it was her fault she hadn't spoken at all for the last twenty-four hours.

Cagalli put her hands on her hips. "Kira, that doesn't change a thing. I'm not letting you be humiliated for something you weren't responsible for! If anyone should be haulked up there, it should be me . . . and the Blue Cosmos people."

Lacus did something with her hands. Kira couldn't understand it, but Cagalli did. "I know, Lacus. Sorry."

"What?" Kira asked.

"It's nothing. Something private," Cagalli said.

She took a deep breath and sighed. "You two . . . just rest. Athrun, Hilda, and I are going to make arrangements to head back home . . . and find someplace big enough to hold the prisoners. Just sit tight."

Kira knew he didn't have any other choice. Cagalli was going to micromanage his life now, she had made that pretty clear. Though she wasn't exactly in a position to refuse. He had proven himself incapable of living independently, at least for a while.

Maybe if he ever got better . . .

"All right," Kira said reluctantly.

Cagalli smiled. "Everything's going to be different, Kira. I promise."

She then turned and left, and Athrun and Hilda followed, leaving Kira alone with Lacus.

Lacus had cut her hair. It was still a shock to look at her shortened hair, it reminded him of Cagalli more than anything else. And her eyes had gotten so sad.

And so much of it had been his fault.

He couldn't remember what he had said to Lacus, but once he had heard a recording, he had been horrified. He had torn Lacus down emotionally and mentally, before shooting her down and leaving her to suffer.

No wonder she couldn't talk.

But why? Why was she still here? Why did she still care even though he had been responsible for her trauma?

He wanted to ask her those things. And she wouldn't be able to answer. Kira couldn't understand a hint of sign language.

His hands began to tremble.

I hurt her. All she tried to do was help me and all I did was . . .

Tears filled her eyes.

Why does she still want to be around me?

He felt her warm hands as they cradled his face, and turned his face towards her. Her eyes were shimmering, emotional, concerned.

"Lacus," he whispered.

He brought her into a tight embrace, which she returned.

She was going to stay. It was obvious she had made her choice. Maybe, even though she was in so much pain, she saw hope for him.

And if he got better, maybe Lacus would too.

It was a wonderful thought, of a future where both of them had finally moved past the violence and pain they had experienced. Maybe they could finally eke out a future together. A peaceful, happy future.

It was all he could hope for.

But then he heard a voice. And it didn't belong to anyone hew knew.

"How touching, Kira Yamato, Lacus Clyne."

Both of the young couple spun towards the door, and there stood a young man Kira had never seen before.

He had a gun aimed right at his head.

The young man, with long blonde hair and cold blue eyes, just laughed softly. "Why am I not surprised? You two were practically made for each other with your self-righteous moral preaching."

'Do I know you?" Kira asked.

The young man smirked. "Not quite. We used to, though, before you went out and killed me, Kira Yamato. But I always have a contingency."

Kira searched his mind, and then the horrifying truth dawned on him.

"No . . . you can't be."

"I am," the young man said. "I'm Rau Le Creuset. I may be just a clone of him, but I have every single one of his memories downloaded into my brain. His mindset. His personality. I am Rau Le Creuset reborn, Kira Yamato."

Lacus shiverd violently, and Kira didn't feel much better.

Rau looked at Lacus and cocked an eyebrow. "What's the matter, Lacus Clyne? Don't have anything to say?"

Lacus looked away, again with the ashamed expression.

Rau's eyes widened and he laughed wildly. "How ironic!"

"What do you want?" Kira asked sharply.

The younger Rau simply shook his head. "I suppose . . . I felt like gloating. Or maybe I'm daring you to try and stop me. I could be killed here but then there'll be another me to worry about. And then another. And then another."

"You still want to kill everyone?" Kira asked.

Rau just shook his head. "Look at what they did to you, Kira Yamato Yo ureally want people like the ones who put you in that Destroy to live?"

"That doesn't mean exterminating the human race!" Kira yelled.

Rau frowned. 'You sound just like Mu La Flaga with that remark."

The remembrance of his fallen friend and mentor made Kira look away.

Rau brought up a pistol. "I can have no interference."

Kira's mind raced. Wait, keep him talking. Rau loves to talk. Delay this until someone can help.

"How are you going to achieve your plans? You have nowhere near the control you once did," Kira said.

Rau's eyes gleamed. "But I will. Trust me, I will. And humanity's crimes aren't the only reason why they must be exterminated, let me tell you."

"Oh really?" Kira asked.

Rau smiled in this wild way. "There is something out there that once infected humanity. It's classified now, erased from the history books, but the Reconstruction War was fought over this infection. This . . . evolution. It's coming back. I can't let humanity get infected with this again, or we won't only destroy ourselves, we will destroy entire civilizations."

"What?" Kira asked.

Rau just shook his head. "I'll let you watch from hell. After all, that's where you are going to go for your own crimes, Kira Yamato."

Kira realized there was no more delay here. No amount of talking would dissuade Le Creuset any longer. Kira closed his eyes and braced himself, but heard footsteps.

Kira opened his eyes and saw Lacus Clyne standing in front of him.

Lacus, no!

He could not see Rau, but he heard him. "Oh, you want to die first, Lacus Clyne? The talkative girl who is now speechless? Fine!"

A gunshot rang out.

"Lacus!" Kira screamed.

But Lacus did not fall.

She wasn't even bleeding.

And then, all Kira could hear was blood-filled gasps from the younger Rau as he collapsed to the ground.

Lacus moved aside, and Kira saw Hilda Harken standing there, her sidearm smoking.

"You all right?" Hilda asked.

Kira was about to reply when Rau wheezed from the ground.

"Like I said, that won't stop me. I have . . . contingencies . . . beyond this one . . . "

He exhaled softly, and life left his eyes. The only movement from his body was an enlarging pool of blood coming out from under his chest.

Cagalli and Athrun then re-emerged. "Hilda? What's going on?" Athrun asked.

It was Rau," Kira said.

Everyone turned towards him. "What?" Cagalli asked.

"Rau. He's back. And he's going to keep coming back."

That put the entire room into a state of silence.
***
Well, this is it. I'm going to become one of Durandal's trusted soldiers. Now I can finally figure out what's going on so this war can be stopped once and for all.

Dearka Elsman couldn't believe he had come this far. But his goal, his reason for infiltration, was finally going to bear fruit. The Chairman had noticed him, wanted to commend him, put him in FAITH. That would be a big mistake for the Chairman, because that would make Dearka privy to most secret documents, among other things. Dearka's clearance was surpassed only by a few.

Shiho Hassenfuss calmly followed him through the hallway. "Congratulations, Dearka." "You helped," Dearka said.

Shiho smiled. "I suppose so."

They stopped right in front of the room where he was going to meet Durandal. "Thank you for everything. We can stop this war, Shiho. I know we can."

"Yes, I know," Shiho said. "Please, go on. I may not be joining FAITH but I'll still be at your side."

"Thank you," Dearka said. He sighed as he walked up to the door.

"Wish me luck," he said.

Shiho chuckled. "Good luck."

Dearka opened the door, and was quite surprised to find . . . it was still dark.

I didn't arrive early. That's strange . . . too strange.

That was when a gunshot rang out from behind and Dearka felt a swelling, blistering heat tear through his midsection.

What?

Dearka spun around as he held his side. He suddenly saw Shiho standing there, holding the smoking gun.

"Remember when I said I was 'surrounded by idiots', Dearka? I wasn't kidding."

Shiho fired again, and this time it hit Dearka's lung. He fell backwards, into the dark room.

Shiho calmly walked over and yanked Dearka's sidearm out of its holster. Dearka couldn't find himself able to form complete sentences, his ability to talk seemed to have vanished.

Shiho began talking in this nonchalant way. "It was enjoyable serving with you, but I could not let you join FAITH. It isn't that you know too much, but that you will know too much. Nothing personal."

She ejected the clip from the pistol. "But as you're going to die, might as well tell you why. It's the least I can do."

She ejected the loaded round from its chamber and casually discarded the remnant of Dearka's pistol. "You may not know this, but Coordinators are actually corruptions of a superior being. Desperate scientists, trying to replicate the science that gave birth to the superior, evolved beings, wound up creating the Coordinator instead."

She sighed. 'The Reconstruction War was so brutal. Humanity was reaching for the stars and it was annihilated because the Naturals could not tolerate themselves becoming supplanted by the superior beings. Of course, many superior beings got to escape for the stars, and I'm sure they'll come back someday, and take revenge for what was done to this crippled Earth."

Dearka suddenly realized that in the dark, Shiho's eyes had an eerie glow in them. An unnatural, neon, white-yellow type of glow that had barely any resemblance to her usual eye color.

Then it occured to Dearka that Shiho had never been seen anywhere but daylight or a well-lit place.

"I, and others like me, are going to pave the way for their return, Dearka. I would ask you to join me, but I know you'd say no, so why bother asking?"

Dearka finally found himself able to wheeze out some words. "What . . . are you?"

Me? My kind fought against aliens. Colonized distant planets. Would've become the new humanity if it weren't for the bigoted. Got erased from the history books. I . . . am what's called an Innovator, Dearka."

She sighed. "You should've bled out by now. I guess I'll have to waste a third bullet, so you don't miraculously survive. That happens to your friends way too much, and I'm sure you've caught some of that luck."

She aimed the pistol at Dearka's head.

"It was an honor, Dearka. Believe it or not I actually liked you. But I can always find a more . . . moldable substitute. Maybe that Shinn Asuka boy. I think he would fit nicely."

Fat chance. He's the type of person who'd rather stay the way he is, Dearka thought.

Shiho smiled. "Farewell. I hope that the afterlife, if there is one, is pleasant to you."

Dearka closed his eyes and waited.

And waited.

Come on, get it over-

Bang.

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MURRUE: Infallible accuracy?? I thought you just usually shot all your weapons at random and they just happened to hit stuff.

KIRA: What do you think this is; a cartoon?


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 Post Posted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:39 pm 
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Creepy Bishonen
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Buhwhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?!


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 Post Posted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:11 pm 
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Creepy Bishonen

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The Green Flame wrote:
Buhwhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?!


Is that good, bad, or just plain "WTF"? XD

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MURRUE: Infallible accuracy?? I thought you just usually shot all your weapons at random and they just happened to hit stuff.

KIRA: What do you think this is; a cartoon?


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 Post Posted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:15 am 
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Mecha Flunky
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Okay, given the presence of the Innovators, are you going to introduce GN Drives in the second half? And are they geniune Innovators or simply Innovades? Is Celestial Being going to make an appearance? Am I reading too much into the 00 references?


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 Post Posted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:59 pm 
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Cardboard Leo Ace
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Well, I didn't see that coming. Although for some reason, maybe becuase the way it was written, I have the idea Dearka MIGHT pull through. Besides, since when are are gunshots lethal? Although considering Shiho's unexpected revealation, it looks like Shinn made a very good decision with deserting. I suspect though, that the Junk Guild may end up paying a heavy price for taking in deserters, especially THOSE two.

On the 00 thing. At first I was worried that this would end up being written as a poor 00 type crossover, but it seems my fears were for naught. From what I understand, the blend was done very nicely with the Reconstruction Wars being a Dark Age type era where technology took a dive along with a massive amount of bloodshed.

Funny though, despite Rau being what appears to be a opponent of the Innovators (maybe), his the one pulling the Ribbon Almark of "Fine, kill this body off, I got a couple hundred lined up."

Although if I had one complaint, it is that this ending reminds me too much of the sci-fi tv series that end their season on a cliff-hanger and leave me hanging for a couple of months >_>. Ah well, enjoy your few months break, you've certainly earned it. Do you expect to be back early 2011, or mid-year out of curiosity?

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Kallor said: 'I walked this land when the T'lan Imass were but children. I have commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I have spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?'

'Yes,' said Caladan Brood, 'you never learn.'


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 Post Posted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:14 pm 
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Creepy Bishonen

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AscendedAlteran wrote:
Okay, given the presence of the Innovators, are you going to introduce GN Drives in the second half? And are they geniune Innovators or simply Innovades? Is Celestial Being going to make an appearance? Am I reading too much into the 00 references?


GN Drive technology was destroyed in the Reconstruction War. Shiho is actually a true Innovator, much the same way Setsuna was. The days of the Innovades are long gone.

Celestial Being is lost to history. Don't expect a CE version of CB to show up or anyone who got assimilated into the ELE. The way I set up Kismet is to be both a distant finale to Gundam 00 and a continuation of Gundam SEED that leads to a new conclusion either in this fic or a Char's Counterattack-esque sequel.

Quote:
Well, I didn't see that coming. Although for some reason, maybe becuase the way it was written, I have the idea Dearka MIGHT pull through. Besides, since when are are gunshots lethal? Although considering Shiho's unexpected revealation, it looks like Shinn made a very good decision with deserting. I suspect though, that the Junk Guild may end up paying a heavy price for taking in deserters, especially THOSE two.

On the 00 thing. At first I was worried that this would end up being written as a poor 00 type crossover, but it seems my fears were for naught. From what I understand, the blend was done very nicely with the Reconstruction Wars being a Dark Age type era where technology took a dive along with a massive amount of bloodshed.

Funny though, despite Rau being what appears to be a opponent of the Innovators (maybe), his the one pulling the Ribbon Almark of "Fine, kill this body off, I got a couple hundred lined up."

Although if I had one complaint, it is that this ending reminds me too much of the sci-fi tv series that end their season on a cliff-hanger and leave me hanging for a couple of months >_>. Ah well, enjoy your few months break, you've certainly earned it. Do you expect to be back early 2011, or mid-year out of curiosity?


The casualty list since Feizhi Aloquin's death is this:

Heine Westenfluss
Andrew Waltfeld
Sai Argyle
Rey za Burrel (yes, he was Rau the entire time in case you didn't catch that)
Dearka Elsman (I will not say whether he's dead or not, I'm leaving it hanging)

Shinn Asuka is the most sought-after person on the planet. Why? The final arc of the story will finally unveil why. Why Mayu has appeared to Kira and Cagalli will be explained too. The Junk Guild has no idea what they've gotten themselves into.

I've always interpreted the Reconstruction War as being a Dark Age-esque event that changed Anno Domini to Cosmic Era. Because Gundam 00 takes place in Anno Domini, I decided to co-opt 00 and use the Reconstruction War as a little-documented historical event that basically caused technology to take a dive along with humanity's ambitions. A mini-Moonlight Butterfly caused by war instead of a lone machine.

Using 00 was also how I finally came up with an ending for Kismet, a destination I could be satisfied with. That's what finally motivated me to begin writing in earnest at long last. I knew what I wanted and how to achieve it.

Rau wants the Innovators gone because he wants no semblance of humanity, evolved or otherwise, to remain. He made sure to have new avatars with each passing failure. His next avatar choice may be . . . surprising.

I'm trying to find a permanent job, and I will be preoccupied with a new novel for National Novel Writing Month in November and finishing it/polishing it for December and January. In February, I'll likely write the story again, but I would like to establish a buffer and have longer, more polished chapters, as opposed to the "make up for lost time" approach I did by speed-writing.

So maybe April, May 2011 is when the fic will return, this time until the finish.

If I feel generous I may post a chapter or two before then but no promises.

And if you pay attention to Shiho's dialogue, you may notice a call forward to Victory Gundam.

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MURRUE: Infallible accuracy?? I thought you just usually shot all your weapons at random and they just happened to hit stuff.

KIRA: What do you think this is; a cartoon?


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 Post Posted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 6:34 pm 
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Creepy Bishonen

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Might try to surprise you guys with a preview sometime in November or December. Depends on how much writing I get done. NaNoWriMo is the writing priority so I have no idea if I'll get any Kismet writing done.

I've planned out the rest of this fic. Now to write it.

I'd appreciate any further reviews or constructive criticism, so I can take that into account as I lead this fic to its conclusion.

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MURRUE: Infallible accuracy?? I thought you just usually shot all your weapons at random and they just happened to hit stuff.

KIRA: What do you think this is; a cartoon?


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 Post Posted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 1:04 am 
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I'm finishing chapter 51. I hope to have a preview up sometime tomorrow. Real posting won't happen until 2011.

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MURRUE: Infallible accuracy?? I thought you just usually shot all your weapons at random and they just happened to hit stuff.

KIRA: What do you think this is; a cartoon?


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 Post Posted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 7:48 am 
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Retconned MSV Ace

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At your own pace, as always. :)

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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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 Post Posted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 1:19 pm 
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I apologize for the delay, been busy the last couple of days. But here's a taste of what's to come.
___________________________________________________________________________
Chapter Fifty-One: Prologue to the End

All expectation hath something of a torment.
-Benjamin Wincomb, Moral and Religious Aphorisms

"There," she said, pointing at the still frame.

"Him?" he asked.

"Yes. That boy. He looks like the girl, from my dream I had last year. That must be him."

"You sure?"

"The family resemblance is unmistakable. I'm dead sure."

She nodded. "I'm dead sure too. There's no way it can't be him."

"Shinn Asuka," he said.

"That's right," she replied. "Shinn Asuka, the boy who will supposedly save us."

She sighed, and fidgeted with her gloves, a habit she had picked up over the last year after an assassination attempt burned her hands. She could have repaired her scars, but had kept them as a reminder that she could never become complacent.

The gloves were not comfortable, and made her hands itch, but they prevented people from seeing something raw, unsightly.

She knew it could have been far worse than her hands. Her entire body could have been burned by that primative yet effective weapon, the Molotov cocktail.

She stopped pulling at her gloves, and as they snapped back tiny shoots of pain crawled across her hands. The pain never failed to force her mind back to business.
"
It's snatch-and-grab time," she said. "It's time to find out what this boy means to us."

Her subordinate, the one who would be leading the operation, saluted. "Yes, my queen."

"Don't fail me."

"I haven't failed you yet, my queen. Shinn Asuka will be ours before long, I assure you."

"Good luck."

"Considering that he has an Extended with him, I'm going to need it."

Her newfound knowledge of the Earth Alliance had made her learn about the Extended. The would-be "Coordinator killers", undone and slaughtered because of bigotry. Of course, the fact that fear had cajoled people into making "Coordinator killers" was an effect of bigotry itself.

The only people she had sympathy for in the travesty were the Extended themselves. They had no say in becoming what they were. They hadn't deserved the deaths they had received.

The subordinate walked out of the room, and she turned to the young man standing in the room with her. "In three weeks, we will be negotiating with the ZAFT to make a formal peace treaty to end the war. I would like you with me."

"I don't know."

"Please. I need your moral support, if that means anything."

His eyes seemed so distant. "But Lacus . . ."

"She'll be okay. She can come with us, if she wants."

He nodded slowly. "All right, I guess. I'll come."

"Thank you, Kira."

She looked at the image once last time.

"Shinn Asuka . . . just what are you? Why are you so important?"

Like every time she had asked the still frame, there was no reply.

But when she got the genuine article, she planned on there being a reply.

A reply that would answer everything she asked.
***
Shinn Asuka woke up next to the most beautiful girl he had ever had in his life.

This feels so weird.

He felt uncomfortable thinking about the night. Neither of them had meant anything by sharing the bed. But before long, one of them got impulsive and instigated something . . . and now Shinn felt profoundly embarrassed.
He turned his head to his right, and there she was, eyes still closed, her blonde hair a slightly frizzy mess as her head dug deep into her pillow. She looked so serene, yet in an odd way, adorable, even though that word shouldn't apply to an eighteen-year-old.

And yet, it did to Stellar Loussier, at least in this situation.

Among other words that Shinn wasn't ready to think about yet.

It had been just over a year since they had fled to the Junk Guild together. They had celebrated their anniversary last week, actually. Gigantic party, the Professor had even ordered her underlings to bake a cake. The cake was, for the lack of a better term, a failure, but it was the thought that counted.

Finally, Shinn had found a place where he belonged. Where Stellar belonged.

He felt her hand suddenly stroke his face. "Shinn."

He turned to her, and she was smiling so calmly, but it was obvious with her half-closed eyes she was barely conscious.

"Hi there," he finally said. "Uh . . . nice night."

"I know." Judging by the red on her face, she was just as embarrassed as Shinn felt. "More exciting than the usual day." Shinn's face felt like it was going to explode like a volcano. "Y-Yeah."

"Stop freaking out about it. We got a long day ahead of us. We're combing the Aegean for stuff, remember? It's gonna take all month just to scratch the surface."

"Yeah, the Aegean." Now Shinn didn't feel so embarrassed, just hollow.

The Aegean had been where the Destroy had made its final rampage, slaughtering all ZAFT and EA forces in sight. The place was considered a treasure trove by the Junk Guild, and as official military forces gradually vacated the area, various ships and mercenaries belonging to the Guild wanted to stake their claim on as much stuff as possible.

This included fighting each other.

The Professor had warned about there being many Junk Guild ships in the area, and not all of them wanted yet another party snooping around. If things got bad, the Frames would have to be deployed.

Piloting a Frame, especially one cobbled together from so much random tech, was harder than Shinn had dreamed. Everything was not in order, and it didn't help his console was made for a left-handed person. Stellar had volunteered to take the left-handed console, but Shinn had felt like acting all tough and manly and demanded he'd take it. And he was regretting it.

Stellar patted him on the shoulder. "It's been a year now. We can handle this."

"It's like robbing a graveyard."

"That's part of what the Guild does. We knew to expect this."

"I know, it's just . . . I don't feel ready for this."

"We can't let the Professor down, Shinn. She gave us a home."

"All right, all right. You win." Shinn sighed. "I'm sorry."

"Stop apologizing, and let's go-"

Suddenly, the door opened, leaving Shinn and Stellar both staring at the unauthorized entrant in shock.

The unauthorized entrant in question was completely oblivious. "Yo, Shinn! Up and at 'em-holy crap!"

Lowe Guele stared at Shinn and Stellar like his mind had completely melted inside his head. He quickly spun back around and shook his head violently. "Good God, you pick today of all days to finally bed your girlfriend?"

Shinn chucked his pillow, his only weapon of any kind, at Lowe and it bounced off Lowe's spiky-haired head. "Out! Get out!"

"Yeah, yeah, I got it. Geez." Lowe quickly vanished and slammed the door behind him.

In the distance, Shinn could hear Kisato Yamabuki's slightly squeaky voice say "Told you so."

Great. They're gossiping about us. Shinn fell back in bed and covered his eyes with his arm. Just what I needed.
Stellar just chuckled. "Come on, Shinn. They've been talking about us since day one. Just wait, we'll pick up somebody new soon enough, and we won't be the 'new guys' anymore."

It was peculiar how well Stellar seemed to be able to read him.

"Yeah, okay." Shinn said, and lifted his arm away from his eyes.

Stellar stood up, and smiled. "Today's a brand new day. We may not like it, but we have to make the most of it, okay? Besides, we have what we want. This is better than being a soldier, right?"

"Yeah," Shinn replied. There was no arguing that point.

"Now let's go." Stellar headed for the door, as she carefully made sure her pajamas covered everything important.

Yeah, Shinn thought. Time to start a brand new day.

Like most days in the last year, he felt ready for one.

It was too bad, then, that no one could be ready for the day about to transpire.
___________________________________________________________________________
I also have a special treat for you guys, something else I've been conceptualizing and writing for a while. One guess as to who the POV character is.

Life is so peculiar,
all you really have to say is "that's life".

-Louis Armstrong

Chapter One: We Were So Close Together

I guess the best way to tell the beginning is to start at an end. Not the end, of course. But an end of something.

I was leaving the academy on the dark side of the moon that day. I was finished with junior high, and my parents, who had adopted me as a baby, wanted me to attend high school and college as an Orb citizen. They didn't want their child to grow up a pawn of the PLANTs, the orbital mega-cities controlled by the Coordinators.

I didn't fully understand why at the time. I was still young. And I was a Coordinator myself. Why should I be separated from my friends? My kind? The kind of people genetically superior to normal human beings?

It's become clear to me that my parents wanted me to learn tolerance, and make friends with normal human beings, who, unsurprisingly, are called "Naturals". I had to learn that Naturals are humans too. Coordinators are not evolved from Naturals . . . just different. But we all have our humanity in common.

Those who forget that are destined to cause only strife, chaos, and hatred. And there are many who forget.

At the academy, you graduated at age thirteen. Just as hormones started to kick in. And, much to my surprise, I was becoming more and more drawn to my best friend.

That's not supposed to happen. People don't fall for their best friends. But we were becoming drawn to each other.

As we met in the park one last time, I saw my best friend, with his silly yet endearing baret on his blue-haired head. The beret did not disguise his long, flowing hair, that made him look somewhat feminine.

He smiled at me, in such a gentle, kind way. "I guess we'll see each other after high school, huh?"

I smiled back. "Yeah."

We both knew it was a lie. My best friend was Athrun Zala, the son of an important politician for the government that controlled the PLANT orbital cities. The Zodiac Alliance of Freedom Treaty, or ZAFT, dominated Coordinator affairs, even for Coordinators who lived on Earth. I don't get the government's name, personally, it seems unnecessarily awkward, but no one listens to language majors like me.

Athrun walked up to me. "I know things don't look good right now, but my father promised there won't be any conflict between the ZAFT and Earth. I believe him."

I didn't like Athrun's father very much, but I knew better than to argue with him. "I hope everything turns out okay, then."

Athrun gazed in my eyes, and then looked away, his face turning red a bit. I was well aware he was crushing on me, which made it even harder for me to avoid showing any overt feelings.

We were twelve. It was so awkward.

Finally, Athrun took his robotic bird, appropriately named "Tori", the Japanese word for 'bird', and cupped it in his hands. The bird chirped in a confused manner, but then its head swiveled to look at me, and it seemed to realize something I wasn't.

"I . . . I want to give you something to remember me by," Athrun said, his cheeks flushing even more than before, if that was possible.

"You're giving me Tori?" I asked.

"Yeah. You've always wanted a robotic pet, and I think it's about time you had one." Athrun looked at Tori, and said "There's your new master, right over there."

Tori's head turned at me, and then it took off from Athrun's hands, and flew in a couple of circles above our heads, before it rested on my left shoulder.

Now I was blushing. "Thank you."

Athrun nodded. He turned, and I looked in the same direction. All of our friends were already with their parents, and preparing to leave the student grounds. Athrun's father was nowhere to be seen, but that could change at any moment.

Athrun bit his lip. "I . . . I've wanted to say something to you for a long time."

"Yeah?" I asked.

"I . . . I like you. I really like you."
I didn't quite know how to answer that. "Uh . . . thank you? I mean, we're friends, but . . ."

Suddenly, I heard Athrun's father. "Athrun, what are you doing? We need to leave! I have a meeting in three hours and we're four hours away from getting to the nearest PLANT!"

Athrun shook his head. "I can't believe I'm doing this."

He ran forward and kissed me.

Tori took off from my shoulder, and flew all around us. I thought about punching him, which is what I usually did when boys messed with me, but I realized I didn't want to do that. Not to Athrun.

I felt so uncomfortable in that instance, but it didn't feel wrong, either.

I had no idea how to react. I had never been kissed by a boy before.

He separated, and then shook his head. "I . . . I'm sorry. I just . . ."

"It's okay. I think," I replied.

His eyes seemed to moisten just a little bit. "I hope we can see each other soon . . . okay?"

"Yeah. Me too."

And then he took off in the direction of his father, who had a most amusing expression on his face. After all, he had just witnessed his son kissing a girl on the mouth. I'm sure Athrun's father hadn't exactly envisioned his son kissing anybody for a couple more years.

As usual, I was left waiting in the park, waiting for my parents to come get me. They were always so slow, because they had to clear roughly a zillion levels of ZAFT security just to gain access to the academy. I was almost always the last child to be picked up at the end of any given semester at the academy because of that.

But this time, it felt different than usual. I had the uncanny feeling that Athrun was leaving me behind.

It turned out that the feeling was true. Horribly true, in ways I could never imagine.

Because it was the day we became destined to be on opposing sides..

_________________
MURRUE: Infallible accuracy?? I thought you just usually shot all your weapons at random and they just happened to hit stuff.

KIRA: What do you think this is; a cartoon?


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 Post Posted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 4:46 am 
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Cardboard Leo Ace
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Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 6:07 am
Posts: 41
Location: Your Face
A time-jump? Well, I guess that means the war has dragged out longer than it did in GSD. Who would of thought that a war could of gone for over a year? I'm not that familar with the characters from Astray, since I have not actually read it, but from what I have read of them, your portrayal of them seems accurate.

I can't really say much more since this feels like one of those damn teaser trailers that seem to love taunting me. But I am eagerly looking foward to it!

All I can come up with for the PoV at the end, is prehaps a female version of Kira?

_________________
Kallor said: 'I walked this land when the T'lan Imass were but children. I have commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I have spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?'

'Yes,' said Caladan Brood, 'you never learn.'


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 Post Posted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 9:00 pm 
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Creepy Bishonen

Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 7:43 pm
Posts: 243
Location: Illinois, USA
The war officially has dragged on for a long time, but it's slowed down as of recently. Later on, there'll be mentions of the fact that the war pretty much has ground to a halt beyond minor skirmishes, as the ZAFT and Earth Alliance prepare their meeting for peace.

I hope I haven't screwed up the Astray characters that bad. But I felt it was right to bring them into the story. This fic is too big to have side stories. XD

Thanks for reading, and I hope the final product does not disappoint you.

And no, that is not a female Kira in the other POV. But you're not far off the mark.

_________________
MURRUE: Infallible accuracy?? I thought you just usually shot all your weapons at random and they just happened to hit stuff.

KIRA: What do you think this is; a cartoon?


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