Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (COMPLETE 10/26/16)

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rebel_cheese
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Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 72 8/9/15)

Post by rebel_cheese » Wed Aug 19, 2015 8:45 pm

Chapter Seventy-Three: Get Ready for It

I flew through the Mendel port, Flay still following me. It was getting on my nerves, it was like she thought I was her comrade or something. It was not something I was comfortable with yet. “Dammit, Flay, why are you following me? Don’t you have to report to your own unit?”

I’m following Prince Kira’s orders. He wants someone to watch you, and I volunteered as I’m the one who knows you the best.

I almost wanted to laugh. Kira already wanted to take care of me? I thought it was the other way around. “Tell Prince Kira that I have one of the most powerful Mobile Suits in existence, I don’t need protecting.”

He doesn’t want his sister going anywhere without backup.

That shook the lopsided grin right off of my face in an instant. “Wait . . . he told you?”

Yes. He did.

Since when was Flay privy to private business? Why would Kira tell her anything that sensitive? Even the rest of the fleet didn’t know yet! Why would Flay have that special privilege, unless . . .

Suddenly, I had an image appear in my mind of Flay and Kira making out much like the way Athrun and I were before we were interrupted.

Now I really did want to throw up. Oh God, Kira and Flay. Why, why, why, why, why, why?

It was becoming apparent that I really needed to catch up on what was going on with my friends during the time I was separated from them.

“Well . . . if it’s his orders, fine. But I’m going to let him know I don’t need anyone following me around.”

You can. But I doubt he’ll listen. He does care a lot about you, otherwise he wouldn’t ask me to do this.

I sensed Flay wasn’t done talking, and she wasn’t. “Also, Cagalli . . . I really do consider you my comrade-in-arms. I know we didn’t get along very well on campus, but . . . war changes everything. We fought together, along with everyone on the Archangel for months. You encouraged me to become a pilot and make myself useful, and I did. I found my purpose because of you.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her my selfish motives for wanting her in the Skygrasper simulator. Plus she had made it fairly obvious in the past she knew what my motives were. “Um, okay?”

Did you know that everyone onboard the Archangel right now is virtually everyone who was there during our entire journey to Orb? Only a few people left. That ship became our true home, Cagalli. Even after being stationed on land, and on the Kusanagi, I still feel like a stranger unless I am on that ship now. Everyone else feels the same way.

It was odd to hear such deep words coming from Flay. I had a sense she had matured a significant amount over the months I was with ZAFT. Maybe she was a better person, or at least a tolerable person, at long last.

“I understand,” I finally said. “Still, I want to know how you feel about my brother.”

I care about him a lot. We’ve been . . . getting closer, on and off, over the last few months. He’s helped me finish putting myself back together.

The thought of Flay as an in-law made me want to put my head through the dash. I really was having trouble comprehending this. But, as long as it was this strangely sane Flay instead of the Flay I had to put up with during most of my time on the Archangel, maybe I could tolerate it. Maybe.

He’s started tinkering with the L4 feeds,” Flay added. “He thinks he might be able to do a broadcast that could reach a lot of people in the Earth Alliance and the PLANTS. He wants to bring people to our side, Cagalli. I really think everyone could rally behind him. I want to be there, supporting him every step of the way, if he thinks this will end the war.

She took a soft breath. “So if he wants me to keep you safe, then that’s what I’m going to do. All right?

“Fine, I won’t argue,” I replied, although I couldn’t keep the reluctance out of my voice. “But don’t drive me crazy either.”

All right.

By this time we were flying by the Eternal. There was still a lot of activity going on. I saw the Justice fly by to join us on our flyby, and I heard Athrun’s voice, which had a surprisingly stern tone. “Cagalli, why did you take off like that? You should have waited for my turn.

I knew I was gonna hear this from him. “I wanted to take care of the personal issue by myself. It was a mistake, Athrun.”

Athrun sighed. He was not happy with me, and justifiably so. I had only started kissing him and treating him like my boyfriend, and then I rushed off half-cocked into battle. If he had done that to me, I’d want to kill him over it.

“Anyway, Athrun, what’s going on? There’s activity going on everywhere.”

Well, from what I’ve been hearing, Dearka and your Lieutenant-Commander La Flaga went off inside Mendel on the suspicion that ZAFT is infiltrating the colony, and they haven’t come back yet.

Alarm bells went off in my head. That was the last thing we needed, ZAFT involved in this too. It was already bad enough that the Dominion had Murrue, to the point where I couldn’t dwell on it or risk crying. Now I wasn’t so sure if I could’ve gone through with it and destroyed the Dominion, not without trying to reach Murrue first.

As much as La Flaga had gotten on my nerves during my journey on the Archangel, I genuinely liked the guy, and he had been invaluable to everyone. We couldn’t afford to lose him either.

I got on the general communications channel we had set up for ourselves. I immediately heard Badgiruel’s voice. “Any luck communicating with the interior, Captain Gladys?

No luck either,” Gladys replied. “The interference is too strong. Not even our coms are strong enough to break through into the colony.

They’ve been gone for too long. Something must have happened,” Badgiruel replied.

That settled it, right then and there. It was like I was developing a hero complex. First I wanted to save the day from Murrue (how it drove me insane to consider that), and now I wanted to save Mu and Dearka.

“I’ll go,” I said. “Just to have a look around. Hopefully they haven’t gotten into any trouble.”

I immediately heard Athrun. “Cagalli, you’re not going anywhere unless I come with you.

He was going to turn this into an argument. However, Badgiruel interfered. “I like the idea of you going, Cagalli. If there’s something going on inside Mendel, the Freedom is well-equipped. Zala, you may not want to hear this, but we need you, and the other Mobile Suits, to remain here. The Dominion has not left L4's vicinity and may be regrouping for a second attack. We might need the Justice in order to beat them back again.

Badgiruel had morphed into a surprising strategist. She had spoken in a lot of detail there, which was different from her typical terseness.

Flay spoke up. “I am under orders from Prince Kira to accompany Cagalli. Is that all right?

Badgiruel sighed. “One Astray missing doesn’t make as much of a difference as the Justice missing. Go ahead.

Flay didn’t even acknowledge the slight diss, which was odd for her. “Thank you.”

Great, I was leaving Athrun behind and I was going to be stuck with Flay instead. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.

“I won’t take long. Once I reestablish contact with La Flaga and Dearka I’ll come right back,” I said. “If I take too long . . . I might need some help.”

We’ll work out the details of who goes in after you if you don’t come back soon,” Badgiruel said. “Right now, make sure what could be going on in Mendel is nothing.”

“Yes, ma’am.” I powered the Freedom away from the Eternal then, with the aim of flying deeper into the dying colony. “See you all later. I promise I’ll stay out of trouble.”

Ohh, how wrong I was about that.
***
“Hey, Flay, got a signal from La Flaga yet?” I asked as we shot into the middle of Mendel. The colony still looked fairly well put together, and the atmosphere seemed breathable, but it looked like the colony was either overgrown with foliage or just plain dead. I privately hoped that if there was a battle, it was out in the dead areas, in the open. I didn’t want to have to wade through a makeshift jungle to find La Flaga.

Nothing yet. Still trying to get contact.

“Keep trying.”

Mendel wasn’t that big. Surely if they were out here somewhere, we’d detect them before too long.

And sure enough, we both got something. “Cagalli, check the northwest!

“I see it! Looks like we’ve got a battle!”

Great. ZAFT was here. It looked like just two Mobile Suits facing off against La Flaga and Dearka . . .

No. One ZAFT mobile suit, a white one I didn’t recognize, and the Duel.

Great. Just what I needed. Asta Joule. As if things couldn’t get more complicated.

It was conspicuous that Asta had not come along with Athrun and the others who had joined our cause. To be honest, I was anything but surprised at that. She was too much of a fanatic to be convinced into joining our side. And she was likely going to be pissed off.

Well, if there was a time for me and Asta to settle things, it might as well be now. At least Athrun wouldn’t have to watch me fight our former teammate.

“Flay! Back me up. We’re taking out the Duel and then we’re going after the new ZAFT Mobile Suit!”

Gotcha. You take the first shot.

Buster was fighting the Duel hard. The Duel’s movements seemed to be slightly erratic, which didn’t surprise me. I am sure if Asta and Dearka were having a conversation, it was quite heated. Considering what little I knew of Dearka implied he was a friend of Yzak Joule’s, Asta wasn’t likely taking what she saw as a betrayal well at all. At the same time, despite her strange movements, Buster wasn’t getting a consistent bead on her. The result was the Duel trying to cleave the Buster and the Buster was constantly in reverse, trying to shoot the Duel down.

I was going to tip the odds in our favor.

I turned on the auto-lock and prepared my missiles. I was going to knock Asta out of the sky, and if it killed her, so be it.

I opened fire then and the missiles immediately shot towards Asta. She realized what was going on too late and the Duel was blasted out of the sky in the next moment, but she somehow willed the GUNDAM into staying in control, she was without her legs and one of her arms but she was still defiant.

Flay’s next shot ended things, sending the Duel spiraling out of the sky and crashing towards the ground.

It felt kind of anticlimactic. The first time I had even heard of Asta Joule’s existence, she had nearly killed me in the desert. Now Flay and I had just taken her out like she was nothing. Like she was just another common Mobile Suit pilot.

I could not have gotten that much better in that short of a time. It had to be the intangibles Freedom offered. That had to be the only explanation.

Dearka buzzed me then. “You made that look way too easy.

“Helped we had the advantage of surprise. What was her problem anyway?”

Probably what you’d expect. I’m a traitor, we’re all traitors, don’t you remember what Yzak died for . . .

He paused. “I don’t think even Yzak would support going as far as Patrick Zala is going, though.

“We’ll discuss this later,” I reply. “It looks like that white Mobile Suit is putting Commander La Flaga on the ropes!”

Yeah, that’s Commander Le Creuset,” Dearka replied.

“Rau Le Creuset, huh?” The situation just got even weirder. Not only did I just shoot Asta Joule down, but I was going to be facing my ex-commander. An odd sensation, like butterflies in my stomach, shot through me. I knew that I was going to be facing Le Creuset eventually, but not this soon, and not directly.

Suddenly, the Strike was blasted and it started crashing towards the ground.

“Damn it!” I was ready to open fire then, but Dearka stopped me.

No. I’ll do it.

Buster suddenly aimed using its long rifle and fired right at the white Mobile Suit, blowing the Mobile Suit’s head off.

The Mobile Suit was sparkling, and I saw an opening to slash its midsection. “I’ll finish it off!”

But as I aimed to slice Le Creuset’s machine in half, he tried to rocket upwards away from me. As a result, I sliced the machine apart in the legs, which caused it to spiral towards the ground, but was not a kill shot.

“Flay! Blow him up! We’re not letting Le Creuset get out of here!”

I’m trying! It looks like he still has some control! He’s dodging my shots! It’s like he knows where I’m going to shoot!

Sure enough, Le Creuset fell out of Flay’s range, and shortly thereafter impacted the ground.

I nearly punched the dash. We just had a golden opportunity here, and we . . .

Then I realized it. No, it wasn’t over yet. We just had to lower ourselves to the ground enough to blow Le Creuset’s Mobile Suit up before he could escape!

“Dearka, I’m sorry about this, but we have to finish our old ex-commander off!”

Yeah, I know.” He didn’t sound very happy about it though, which was expected.

It looked like Le Creuset, La Flaga, and Asta had all crashed around the same building that reminded me vaguely of a laboratory. I turned on my auto-lock to target the remains of Le Creuset’s Mobile Suit. I was almost in effective range when I saw his cockpit door open and his familiar masked face step out.

Oh no you don’t.

As he started climbing down his crashed machine. I got the lock-on confirmation. It was only then that I got identification for Le Creuset’s new machine, the ‘ZGMF-600 GuAIZ’. I had never heard of it, but clearly it was outmatched compared to the Buster and Freedom.

I opened fire just as I saw Rau leap away from the GuAIZ.

An explosion resulted, and for a moment, I thought that I got him. But as debris fell from the explosion, I saw Rau get up and run for it, getting inside the outer walls of the laboratory before I could train my rifle on him. It was clear Asta had taken refuge by the outer wall as well, and they were shooting at what seemed to be a wounded Mu La Flaga.

Should we try to shoot them?” Flay asked.

As much as I wanted to, Mu La Flaga was much too close. “No. Commander La Flaga is danger close. I don’t want to kill him just to kill Rau Le Creuset and Asta.”

When you put it that way, you’re saying there’s some things we just shouldn’t do if we’re hoping to be better than ZAFT and the Alliance,” Dearka replied.

I hadn’t thought of it that way. But now that I did . . . “Yeah. I guess you’re right.”

They’re retreating into the building,” Flay said.

I sighed. “Mendel was closed because of biohazard stuff, right?”

That’s what I’ve heard,” Dearka confirmed.

“Right. We can’t blow up the building without possibly causing whatever that biohazard is to get loose again. We don’t know what we’re dealing with here.”

So what do we do?” Flay asked.

As I saw Mu La Flaga chase the two downed ZAFT pilots into the building, I knew the only thing we could do.

“Dearka, stay here. If Rau and Asta come out, you have to shoot them or take them prisoner, depending on how reasonable they’re being, okay?”

You can’t be seriously suggesting you’re gonna go in there!” Dearka yelled.

“That’s precisely what we’re doing. Flay, you’re coming with me. I hope you know how to use your service pistol.”

Lieutenant-Commander La Flaga taught me how,” Flay replied.

“Good. End of discussion. We’re setting down!”

I hadn’t fought on the ground since Tassil. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but I didn’t see any other way out of this. I definitely wasn’t going to blow up the building now that La Flaga was heading inside; that was for sure.

Damn it. You girls are crazy. Don’t get yourselves killed in there, we need you both. Don’t make me have to kill my ex-wingmate and commander either!” Dearka said.

“Trust me, I have no intention of putting you in that position,” I replied as I set the Freedom down. “We’ll likely not have radio contact inside the building. Just sit tight if you can.”

All right,” Dearka said with a sigh.

I opened the cockpit door and removed my helmet, taking my service pistol out with its spare ammunition. This was the last thing I wanted to do, but . . .

I could hear distant gunfire. It sounded like La Flaga wasn’t all the way inside.

I got down and ran towards the building’s outer gate as quickly as I could, chasing the sounds of the gunshots. By the time I made it to the building’s entrance, Flay had caught up to me.

“What do we do?” Flay asked, breathless.

I looked at Flay’s pistol. “Turn off your safety first.”

Flay, for the first time, seemed like her old self, she even turned red briefly. “Crap! I always forget that part!”

The gunshots were still continuing inside the building. I was honestly amazed that La Flaga had managed to chase both Le Creuset and Asta Joule inside. But that was odd. Why would Le Creuset and Asta allow a wounded Mu La Flaga to follow them inside, like they were retreating? It didn’t make sense. Why not try to ambush him and finish him off?

Something wasn’t right.

“Don’t forget anything else. I think we’ve stumbled onto something worse than we thought,” I finally said.

“The biohazard?” Flay asked.

“I don’t know. But it’s bad enough that they’re allowing La Flaga to chase them inside despite outnumbering him. They don’t know we’ve followed him inside yet.”

There were voices in the distance too. Or voice. Sounded like Le Creuset, but the echos were severe enough, and distant enough, I couldn’t make out what exactly he was saying.

Flay let out a soft gasp, and then leaned against the wall. “This is a very bad idea, isn’t it?”

“Better than leaving La Flaga behind. Let’s go!”

I entered through the front door, following the sounds of gunshots and the distant voice above it all.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Before you ask how Le Creuset could dodge Flay in such a damaged MS, keep in mind he is documented with Newtype flashes. He had them going haywire while Flay was trying to blast him.

And the chapter title, while indeed named for a song (a song featured in an awesome movie), it's also a message for you readers. Get ready for it. :)
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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Vent Noir
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Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 72 8/9/15)

Post by Vent Noir » Thu Aug 20, 2015 5:12 pm

rebel_cheese wrote: The Freedom is colored a lot like the Strike, if not identical, much like how Justice has a resemblance to the Aegis. A "Freedom Rouge" would be extremely cool to see, I think! I'd love to see it happen!
You don't need to wait for me to do my take on it, a few others have done the concept, asGoogle Image Search reveals
Vent Noir

@AJDynon on Twitter

April 7, 1979: The first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam premieres. Fanboys declare Gundam "Ruined FOREVER".

rebel_cheese
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Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 72 8/9/15)

Post by rebel_cheese » Wed Aug 26, 2015 2:02 am

Vent Noir wrote:
rebel_cheese wrote: The Freedom is colored a lot like the Strike, if not identical, much like how Justice has a resemblance to the Aegis. A "Freedom Rouge" would be extremely cool to see, I think! I'd love to see it happen!
You don't need to wait for me to do my take on it, a few others have done the concept, asGoogle Image Search reveals
Cool, thanks!

Next chapter is a go!
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?

rebel_cheese
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Posts: 305
Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 7:43 pm
Location: Illinois, USA

Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 73 8/19/15)

Post by rebel_cheese » Wed Aug 26, 2015 2:09 am

Chapter Seventy-Four: Relating to a Psychopath

The door led to a hallway of what looked like a giant, imposing laboratory lobby. Every movement caused a loud echo to erupt from the floor, like I was in an enclosed, metallic cave. Flay’s footsteps joining in made it sound like the two of us were some giant metal army charging through. It was a miracle that neither Mu La Flaga or Rau Le Creuset had noticed us yet.

More gunshots up ahead. I was amazed that no one had hit each other yet. It just sounded like deflection after deflection.

We paused in the center of what I could only describe as a monolith, but it could have been part of the power system. I could hear Rau Le Creuset’s voice more clearly at this point, coming from straight ahead. “Do you have any idea what this place is, Mu?”

Mu La Flaga’s reply was characteristically succinct. “Why would I, psycho?”

More gunshots followed Mu’s reply. Damn it, those two men had it out for each other.

“Hurry, Flay,” I said, and we ran around the monolith, chasing the gunfire. Honestly, I was impressed by Flay continuing to follow me like this. Flay was the type to turn and run. Mu La Flaga and Kira had been a positive influence on her.

Honestly, I agreed with Mu. Why would any of us know what this place is? It was becoming clear that this wasn’t one of the biohazard facilities, though.

“It’s such a crime for you not to know!” Rau’s voice shouted as we made around the structure and into a darkened hall.

“Where’s the other pilot?” Flay asked as we moved through.

“Probably with Rau Le Creuset. She would have jumped Mu by now if she wasn’t,” I replied.

Honestly it would make sense for Asta to hide in wait so she could surprise Mu from behind, or to stop any reinforcements by joining Mu. It was peculiar why that wasn’t happening. Why, instead, was it turning into a straightforward confrontation and the advantage for Le Creuset and Asta was going to be lost?

It just didn’t make sense to me. Of course, it soon would, but the thought of what could possibly happen didn’t occur to me as we searched through the darkened hallway, waiting for Asta to spring at us like a zombie in a haunted house.

Silence. Way too much silence. They had stopped shooting at each other, and I was beginning to get nervous we were going to head in the wrong direction. Maybe there was an ambush up ahead.

“Flay, take cover behind the door. I’m going to call out to Mu La Flaga,” I replied.

Flay gave me a look like I had grown a second head. “You sure that’s the best idea?”

“I want Le Creuset to know that he’s outnumbered. I’m going to force his hand and we’re going to shoot the bastard when he does,” I replied. I was just talking out of my ass at that point, I was getting scared, and I wanted to know where Mu was so the three of us could join forces.

Flay didn’t argue. Maybe she was getting scared too. The thought of finding the lone adult on our side had to be too tempting.

I leaned against the wall, and bit my lip. This was either going to get me what I wanted, or we were about to get a host of gunshots. “Mu! Mu La Flaga!”

Immediately, I heard a response up ahead, showing me we had not gotten lost. “Cagalli? What are you doing?”

“C’mon, Flay.” I broke out of my cover then and ran towards Mu’s voice. We were going to find him now, and then we would actually have a plan.

But before we made it too far, I heard Rau’s voice. Now he was yelling at me. “How delightful for you to join us, Cagalli Yamato! I guess this must really be fate if you’re joining us as well!”

I was guessing that Rau must be on some serious drugs if he thought that this was ‘fate’.

“How I had to sit there and not say anything when I saw you join ZAFT, join my very unit! Now, I can finally unveil everything to you, child!”

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” Flay mumbled beside me, deciding to be Captain Obvious.

“Let him rant. He’ll lead us right to him,” I replied.

Finally, after rounding a corner, I saw Mu, taking cover besides a statue by what seemed to be a dead elevator shaft. The statue seemed to resemble a DNA straight, or some kind of spiral, I wasn’t sure what it was supposed to represent.

“Finally!” I broke cover and ran right up to him, taking cover by the closed elevator door. Flay joined me, and we both gasped for breath right besides him.

I smelled blood when I got next to La Flaga. That was not a good sign.

“Oh God, it’s not just you,” La Flaga sighed. “Why did you both have to follow me?”

“Like we were going to let you come in here alone,” I said.

“You’ll always be our Lieutenant-Commander, sir,” Flay added.

“Nosy kids,” Mu murmured.

I realized Mu was favoring his left side. I looked and I could see blood on his uniform. “Sir, you’re wounded!”

“It’s nothing,” he replied, almost offhand. “And you girls can just call me ‘Mu’. We’re not exactly military anymore, are we?”

The thought of calling him ‘Mu’ sounded almost as weird as calling Badgiruel ‘Natarle’. I couldn’t really think of him as just plain old ‘Mu’.

Rau started yelling again from the distance. “Don’t be shy! Come along to the place where it all began!”

To make it even worse, he shouted my name then, in total sing-song, before returning to what I guess was his normal ranting tone. “Cagalli, don’t you want to see? This was where you were born! You and the reason why you had to be born here!”

“What?” I didn’t understand. What did he mean by the ‘reason’? Hadn’t I heard the reason why already from what I heard from the audio recording of my birth parents? Hadn’t I heard enough just by hearing my birth mother wail at my birth father?

Mu La Flaga turned to me, stern. “Don’t fall for his tricks, Cagalli. No matter what he says, don’t believe a word of it.”

He made a persuasive argument, but I was becoming gripped by fear. Fear that somehow, Rau Le Creuset really did know who I was. He was already uncomfortably close to the truth just by what he said at that moment. I couldn’t say this to La Flaga though, or it would just make the situation worse.

I heard Asta’s voice for the first time, addressing Le Creuset. “What are you talking about, Commander? What’s going on here?”

Le Creuset somehow still felt he had to yell, which made me think Asta was farther away from him than I expected. “Oh, you’ll understand soon, Asta! After all, it is you who was the reason why Cagalli was born here!”

I froze then. I knew enough, just enough to know what Le Creuset meant by that.

Oh my God.

Asta and her illnesses, her weak organs that were slowly overcoming her. Now it all made sense why that was. Why no matter how strong she tried to make herself, no matter how many pills she took, they weren’t enough.

Asta was just like me. Considering she was older than me, that meant she was my predecessor.

“Asta! Asta, don’t listen to him!” I broke cover then and charged down the hall, and I heard both Mu La Flaga and Flay tell me to wait.

I didn’t care. I knew how I had reacted when I had heard the truth, or part of the truth, back in Orb. I had completely freaked out and was ready to kill myself, or accept my death, or something along those lines. Asta, who wasn’t a pillar of mental stability already, what would she do?

I had to reach her before Le Creuset said too much.

I could already hear Asta yelling at Le Creuset, in complete confusion. “What are you talking about sir? What does Cagalli have to do with me?”

“Asta! Asta stop listening to him!” I ran through a doorway, and immediately saw flashes up ahead.

I ducked to the left as gunshots flew past me and right at my cover. My heart skipped a beat. Too close. Way too close.

“What is this place?” Asta yelled, almost wailed. “Where are we, sir? Answer me!”

I heard Rau then, and to me, he sounded almost like a demon. “Oh, Asta . . . how everything’s been hidden from you for so long. Just like Mu La Flaga, just like Cagalli Yamato, the truth will be exposed to you as well!”

“What are you talking about, Commander?” Asta shouted, before she had a clear, violent coughing fit. I leaned out, and briefly saw her run to the left through one of the elevated pathways, around what seemed to be like thousands of human embryos and fetuses stored in clear tanks.

Dammit Asta. I was about to run off again when I heard Mu La Flaga and Flay Allster join me. Immediately, Mu La Flaga grabbed me and slapped me in the face before I could do anything.

His voice was low and strangely harsh for him. “You do that again and you’re staying outside, Cagalli!”

I knew he was right. I had done something extremely stupid, and I didn’t need the slap to realize that. “I’m sorry, sir.”

Mu growled something unintelligible, and then he took a look through the hallway, and I knew he was seeing the same embryos and fetuses that I was. “What the hell?”

Flay let out a small gasp. “I think I’m gonna be sick.”

Mu let out a short breath, and then aimed his pistol in front of him. “I’m taking point. You girls watch the flanks. I don’t care who it is, just shoot if you see one of them.”

I could hear Asta desperately yell for Rau Le Creuset, yell at him for an explanation, for something, anything, but Rau wasn’t answering her. He seemed content to let her run around screaming for him.

I was disgusted. What kind of man would string someone along like this? Put her in such clear despair, and then leave her fumbling around?

I followed Mu through the hallway. It was difficult to not look at the embryos and fetuses, all in various stages of development, floating in the tanks. I knew. I knew that any of these fetuses could have been me, and someone else, one of these fetuses or embryos, could be in my position right now, learning this, while I was stuck in one of these tanks, like a prisoner in a cage.

It wasn’t just Flay who wanted to be sick then. I could feel the bile in the back of my throat. The thought of being one of those embryos or fetuses, forever stuck, frozen like this, never able to fully develop through the decades and centuries . . .

Hell. This place was hell. An extension of it, made by human hands, condemning those who hadn’t even progressed to being born.

I could hear Rau then, shouting like he was the devil in charge of this place. “Don’t you have any memories of this place, Cagalli? Doesn’t any of this seem familiar to you?”

“Don’t listen to him,” Mu La Flaga growled.

“What is he talking about?” Flay asked. Poor Flay, she seemed to be the only one not involved in this madness, and now she was going to hear it all.

“Don’t listen to him,” La Flaga repeated.

That’s when a gunshot rang out, and I saw Flay get winged in the right shoulder. She screamed.

“Flay!” I caught her, and I heard Mu La Flaga return fire.

“Hurry, get her into the office!” La Flaga barked.

I saw what he was talking about, it wasn’t far from our position at all. I draped Flay over my shoulder and immediately tried to shuffle her towards the hallway as I heard Mu La Flaga run out of ammunition and reload, before resuming firing, probably to keep Rau’s head down.

I made it inside the office and instinctively flipped a switch, but the power wouldn’t turn on. Out of ideas, I ran Flay over behind a table, laid her down, and flipped the table to form some kind of cover for us.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Flay moaned, managing a sad smile as she stared at me. “I blew it.”

“It’s okay. That wasn’t much more than a graze. You’ll be okay,” I said before I ran from the table and towards a sofa, and I pulled it in front of the table.

Mu La Flaga ran inside then. “Damn that bastard!”

I heard Rau then, yelling in the distance. “I won’t kill the two of you! I let you all come this far, after all! I’ll let you live long enough to hear the whole story!”

Gunshots from the outside shot into the office, and Flay screamed. For a second, I thought she was hit again, but as I ran to her position, she was on the verge of tears. She had been so calm inside the Mobile Suit, but fighting this madman with only a pistol was overwhelming her.

“However, Flay Allster, you haven’t earned the right to be here! You don’t deserve to hear the story! For you, I’ll make an exception!”

More gunshots. Mu La Flaga had to flip himself over the sofa and the table to join us behind it as more gunshots fired over and around us.

As he stopped, I leaned out with my pistol. I saw a shadowy figure and fired, and the pistol violently kicked in my hand as I tried to shoot Le Creuset. I apparently missed as he just laughed following my attempt to shoot him.

“Oh fine, Allster can hear it too! It’s not like she’ll live to tell about it anyway,” Le Creuset said after a moment. “After all, she had to do her fair bit of suffering just to make it this far!”

“Shut up,” Flay managed through clenched teeth, though it probably wasn’t loud enough for Le Creuset to hear her.

This wasn’t good. Mu La Flaga looked like he had some kind of metal stuck in his left side, and now Flay had been shot in the shoulder. As far as I knew, no bullet had struck Le Creuset, and there was no telling where Asta was.

That’s when I saw a framed picture slide past our cover, stopping right in front of me.

I recognized it right away. It was the picture Uzumi Nara Athha had shown me, the picture that Kira had in his possession! Him and I as twin babies in our birth mother’s arms!

Le Creuset was not lying after all. If the picture was in this laboratory, that meant . . .

A photobook landed in front of us, sending pictures all over the place. One picture was upright, showing a blonde man holding a kid with a toy airplane above his head.

La Flaga recognized that one. “My dad?”

“Oh God, what’s going on here?” Flay moaned.

Rau’s voice was quieter now, almost sinister, sly, smarmy. “Aren’t any of you the least bit curious? About the extent of humanity’s insatiable desires? About the fools who pursued their insane dreams in the name of progress?”

One more gunshot, seemingly as a reminder against me poking my head out. “After all, Cagalli, you’re a child of this too! You and Asta Joule! Children of fools who thought they could play God!”

“Do you have a shot?” Mu La Flaga asked.

“I can’t even poke my head out,” I replied. “I think we’re gonna have no choice but to listen to him. He has us all pinned down.”

“I’ve heard enough,” Flay said. “I just want him to die already.”

I heard footsteps from the left. It had to be Asta Joule.

Sure enough, I could hear the violent coughs as she seemed to stagger to a stop. “C-Commander . . .”

“Oh, Asta, how good of you to finally join us! Now I don’t have to repeat this sordid tale of this forbidden temple! Now you’ll finally get to learn that your parents decided to play God with you!”

“W-What?” Asta asked, her voice soft, shaken.

Damn it. He was going to drive her insane, just like him. “Asta, don’t listen to him!”

Gunshots, the bullets landing right in front of my head. “That’s enough out of you, Cagalli! Don’t go telling her lies or false comforts! Either you’re going to hear the story, or we all die here, and the secrets of this place die with us!”

He chuckled then. “Oh Cagalli. I do wonder, how was it that you fell into our grasp anyway? How did you wind up so exposed, and so despairing, that you felt joining ZAFT was the best option for you? I wonder, did you find anything out about your tainted past, something that made you decide to try to find justice for it?”

How did he know any of this? How much did he truly know about me?

“You bastard! Shut the hell-” Before Mu could finish, Rau Le Creuset fired another bullet, and this one zinged the top part of the couch, not far from Flay’s head. She shrieked and shrank closer to the floor, her hands covering her head. I couldn’t blame her.

“Until you literally showed up in my office, Cagalli, I had no idea you were still alive. You and your twin brother. I always assumed the two of you had died. After your birth father, Ulen Hibiki, you were the top target of Blue Cosmos, Cagalli!”

If there was any doubt before, that took care of any other chance. He knew. He knew all too well, and he had filled in a gap I hadn’t known before. Now I knew why Blue Cosmos was so intent on killing me. I was their top target for death. And the moment they found out I was alive, they were searching for any reason to kill me. It was a miracle that the facility in the Indian Ocean had tried to keep me alive.

“As for you, Asta,” Rau said, “You’re the reason why Doctor Hibiki decided to experiment on his own daughter. After all, your survival inspired him! Why not continue experimenting on female embryos and fetuses, when he had insurmountable proof that he was close to figuring out the puzzle?”

I heard Asta then. Distant. Soft. Broken. I wanted to call out to her, but I knew that would only invite another gunshot or two from Rau, and sooner or later, one of those bullets was gonna hit us.

“No . . . why . . . why . . .”

Rau chuckled then. “And now look at the two of you. Both of you, right here, somehow still alive, even after throwing yourselves into the war. You, Asta, with that weak immune system and sick, struggling organs! You, Cagalli, who had lived the life of an ordinary civilian before Heliopolis? How do either of you think you both still live?”

Surprisingly, it was Flay who yelled next. “I was at Heliopolis too! And I’m still alive! What are you trying to say?”

“Oh shut up, Allster. You’re an uninvited guest as it is!”

The next gunshot went right through the sofa, barely missing Flay’s head. She cried out in fright and fell next to Mu, who caught her.

“One more word out of you, and I know I’ll hit you. Do your part in this affair and remain a member of the audience.”

“Don’t speak up,” Mu whispered to her. “I don’t want you losing your life for nothing.”

“O-Okay, sir,” Flay managed.

I heard thumping noises, I peeked through the hole in the sofa, and saw Asta had fallen to her knees, and she was staring into space. She was breaking, and there was nothing I could do to help her.

Even though Asta and I had never been on friendly terms, I still wanted to help her. I knew that if, somehow, I could just make it to her, maybe I could get through to her.

The last thing I wanted her to do was somehow relate to what was clearly a psychopath rambling away.

“Do either of you understand what I’m saying, Cagalli, Asta? Does any of my words have any meaning to you?”

“Shut up!” I shouted. I leaned out and took a shot at him, but it turned out I was way off, I wasn’t even close to hitting him.

I ducked back, but Rau didn’t shoot back. Instead, he just laughed. “Still in denial, Cagalli? I suppose that’s to be expected. You struck me as having one of those rebellious, pragmatic personalities. Again, why do you think that is?”

“I don’t know, why don’t you tell me if you think you’re so smart?” I shouted at him.

I was on the verge of losing it. There was nothing I wanted more in that moment than to put a bullet through Rau Le Creuset’s skull. I was still in partial disbelief over all of this. My former commander at ZAFT, the guy who had been so calm, even after JOSH-A, he was nothing more than a lunatic! Spouting off conspiracy theories and ham-fisted garbage!

Le Creuset didn’t laugh this time. Instead, he spoke with absolute certainty. “You are what humanity strives to be, Cagalli. You are the Ultimate Coordinator.”

I peeked through the hole again, and I saw Le Creuset was standing next to Asta. “And you, my poor subordinate, you are nothing more than Cagalli’s failed prototype. The reason why Doctor Hibiki chose to make Cagalli the product of his foolish dream.”

“No . . . no . . . I can’t . . . I can’t . . .” Asta sounded like she was sobbing. Sobbing. I had never heard her sound so sad, so despairing, ever in my life.

Le Creuset chuckled. “Don’t you feel the least bit proud, Asta? After all, you’re the reason why Cagalli has lived such a perfect, healthy life. Your very existence is why Cagalli has hers! You blazed the trail for Hibiki to make his daughter everything he ever wanted!”

Damn it, he really was trying to poison her mind! But like he knew I was going to try to shoot him, he fired shots at both mine and Mu’s positions, pinning us both down.

“Don’t any of you realize the meaning of this place? This is where humanity thought could be their new heaven, where they could play God all they wanted! But what they made instead was hell, and what resulted were . . .”

I wondered what Le Creuset was going say. Demons? Hellspawn? What?

His next words were something that I hadn’t quite expected.

“Abominations.”
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You have no idea how long I have waited to reveal all of this.

You thought the true butterfly was Cagalli and Kira switching places? Did any of you not stop to think about why Cagalli and Kira would have switched places? Why Cagalli would be the Coordinator instead?

Heh. I guess this must be what Rau Le Creuset feels like.

Well, anyway, the next chapter will be an even greater doozy than this one. Hope you enjoyed.
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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The Green Flame
Creepy Bishonen
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Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 74 8/26/15)

Post by The Green Flame » Wed Aug 26, 2015 1:06 pm

Well...this is a turn of events!

rebel_cheese
Newtype Emo Guy
Posts: 305
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Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 74 8/26/15)

Post by rebel_cheese » Wed Sep 02, 2015 9:32 pm

The Green Flame wrote:Well...this is a turn of events!
Oh, there's going to be more. Much, much more.
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?

rebel_cheese
Newtype Emo Guy
Posts: 305
Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 7:43 pm
Location: Illinois, USA

Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 74 8/26/15)

Post by rebel_cheese » Wed Sep 02, 2015 9:55 pm

Chapter Seventy-Five: What Lies Beneath

“Abominations?” I yelled. I couldn’t believe Rau Le Creuset, who had basically revealed himself to be insane, was daring to call me an ‘abomination’. As far as I knew, I was more human that Rau was. “What the hell are you talking about? I’m a human being, dammit!”

“You are the product of Ulen Hibiki’s desires to play God and nothing more. You and Asta Joule are from the only children he has experimented on, but the two of you are the only ones who survived in his artificial womb.”

Rau chuckled then. “And Asta here and only be classified as a partial success, at that.”

I wanted to yell out to Asta, but every time I had done that, I had attracted a gunshot from Rau Le Creuset. Eventually he was going to hit one of us if he kept firing that thing. Flay and Mu were already wounded, and I couldn’t afford to get shot. And Flay seemed to have lost her gun after getting shot.

So I answered Rau Le Creuset again directly. “So you’re saying that Asta and I shouldn’t exist? Is that it?”

Rau chuckled again. “You are the product of a man who had lost all reason in the hope of achieving human progress. What do you think the answer is? What do you think that means for humanity as a whole?”

It was tempting to say he could shove it up his ass, but that would, again, just get us shot at. I wasn’t sure what the best plan was. Should I keep playing along and try to stall, or should I try to find a way to get us out of here?

I leaned around the edge of the sofa, and I saw Rau Le Creuset in the open.

I opened fire. Rau immediately jumped away behind cover, and I couldn’t tell whether I had hit him or not.

I fired two more shots to keep him pinned down behind his corner. “Mu! Flay! Go!”

I turned my eyes to Asta just for a moment. She was on her hands and knees, tears in her eyes. “Asta! Either come with us or help me kill Rau! You don’t have to listen to his garbage!”

I saw Rau lean out and I fired another shot to keep him pinned. “Asta, please! Help me!”

Shut up.” I realized right away, by the tone in her voice, she was going to go right for her gun. I immediately turned and ran away, heading right for the stairs where Mu and Flay were heading down.

“Shut up you bitch!”

Asta fired wildly as I ran for the stairs, and I wound up leaping over the railing and landing a couple of steps down, and it took everything I had to avoid falling down the stairs and taking Mu and Flay out with me. It was a miracle I didn’t turn my ankles.

After taking a moment to steady myself, several gunshots slammed into the wall above me. Over the din of the gunshots, I could hear Asta screaming “Shut up!” over and over and over.

“Not getting through to her, eh?” Mu asked. It was tempting to slap him.

“Let’s keep going. Try to find a place to hide so we can kill that bastard. Then maybe we’ll get through to her.”

I heard the faint echo of Asta’s gun making a click sound, repeatedly. That was as condemning as the gunshots themselves. She had lost total control over herself, and if we couldn’t get her to snap out of it . . .

I forced myself to focus. Rau Le Creuset was the enemy here. Asta was the victim. And now Rau was going to poison her mind even more than he already had.

“Right,” Mu said, with a trace of a sardonic tone. “I don’t think we’re in much shape for an ambush, but I don’t think we have much choice either You’re not taking any of his nonsense seriously, are you?”

“I’ve already heard part of it straight from my birth father’s mouth. Long story,” I replied.

“Wait, what?” Flay asked, surprised.

“Let’s keep going before he makes it down the stairs,” I said, so everyone could keep their focus.

“Probably a good idea,” Mu said, and we went down the flight of stairs and onto the next floor.
***
We hid in another office, albeit one that had more cover than the office above us. Flay and I sheltered by some computer terminals, and Mu was across the room to the left. It would hopefully guarantee us a chance to shoot Rau Le Creuset if he was stupid enough to expose himself. At the same time, the terminals wouldn’t stop every bullet that came our way. If there was going to be a gunfight to end it all, it needed to end quickly.

Flay was hissing and moaning in pain. Clearly the wound was getting to her, and it was still bleeding. It didn’t look lethal but this was no time to treat it. The only way we could treat it was if we killed Rau and possibly Asta and then could take our time trying to get out of here.

I heard Rau walking down the flight of stairs we had. I couldn’t tell whether Asta was with him or not. “I am not much different than you, Cagalli! I did not come into this world by natural birth!”

“God, what is wrong with him?” Flay hissed.

I turned towards her. “Let him rant. The moment he comes in here, Mu and I are going to kill him and he’ll never talk again.”

“My genes were altered artificially, early in the embryonic stage of development!” Rau proclaimed as it sounded like he was coming down the last couple of steps. “As were yours, Cagalli! Perhaps you even more so, because you didn’t spend any time in your mother’s womb at all!”

I wasn’t going to answer and reveal our position. I wasn’t going to be that stupid.

Suddenly, as if he knew we were in this room, I heard Rau Le Creuset enter it, and my heart slammed against my chest. It was like he was psychic. He knew we were in here, despite there being so many rooms for us to be hiding in this facility. How did he know?

I heard a light switch flip, and the entrance to the room flickered on. “George Glenn was the first Coordinator humanity knew. Do you know of the chaos that he set into motion? Here, I’ll show you just one aspect of the chaos!”

Suddenly, I heard another switch flip, and I suddenly heard voices talking in the room. Like recordings of people, overlapping each other.

I want my child to have blue eyes and blonde hair.

I want my son to have my calm, steady surgeon’s hands.

I want my daughter to have my grandmother’s smooth auburn hair! It was so lovely!”

There were more like those. It was like listening to a never-ending recital of the most vain of humanity making the most asinine requests.

Rau laughed after the recordings went on for a bit. “That is merely one of the doors he opened! Humanity’s desire to somehow perfect themselves! That we somehow knew how to create ourselves better than natural selection did! Want to hear the results of these attempts, Cagalli, Mu, Allster?”

“I don’t want to hear this anymore,” Flay moaned. I didn’t either.

I leaned out, just a bit. I did not have a clear shot, and judging by the fact Mu hadn’t fired yet either, he didn’t have one himself.

“We have no choice. I don’t have a shot,” I replied.

Suddenly, the recordings changed. And then it went from grotesquely silly to just plain horrific.

She suffered a miscarriage! How could you let that happen! We spent a fortune on our baby girl and she didn’t even make it to five months!

Her eyes are all wrong!”

The mother’s body will affect the stage of embryonic development! We made that very clear when you signed off on this!

How the hell did my son wind up with Down Syndrome? He was supposed to be superior!

It never ended. The people raging against their children’s appearances, their flaws, the doctors, and the things they didn’t expect. There was so much outright hatred for their babies, like they were commodities, like they were little more than luxury cars that had turned out to be lemons.

“People paid dearly for this dream, of the perfect child, so of course they wanted it to come true. How can you blame them?” Rau said above the recordings. “It’s only human nature to want the best for yourself! No one wants to see their dreams shattered!”

The recordings stopped, and I recognized the voice that was next, from the recordings at my own house. It was my birth father, Ulen Hibiki.

After the latest round of failures, I can only come to one conclusion: the greatest variable in the process is the mother’s own body. If we could eliminate the mother’s body from the equation . . .

I immediately realized what that meant. Now Rau was leading into the story of how I was born. Or, as he was trying to put it, created. That I was a literal test tube baby.

Rau stopped the recording. “Is that what drove them onward? Because people demanded it? That their hopes and dreams come true no matter what the cost?!”

Another recording. An alarm was going off in the background. Undoubtedly Rau was playing one of my birth father’s seemingly endless failures.

We have a failure in Unit 3!

Damn it! Increase the power to the filtration system!”

Heartbeat is increasing! Blood pressure is over two hundred! We’re losing him!”

Then I heard my birth mother’s voice. “Stop this, Ulen! That’s a human life in there!

I know that! That’s exactly why I have to see this through to the end, Via!

You’re trying to manufacture life! You have to stop!

I was hearing my birth parents fight all over again, just like in the recordings my adoptive mother had played to Uzumi Nara Athha.

“And what were the results of their dreams?” Rau roared. “What did people receive from this? What did they get?”

And then played a recording I was intimately familiar with already. The argument I had heard played by my adoptive mother.

Give her back to me! Give her back! Don’t do this to her, Ulen! You’re playing God with our daughter!

I’ve almost cracked it. The last subject was almost perfect! I have to continue in this direction! I must!

That poor girl you experimented on will be lucky to make it through more than a decade of life! I won’t let you do this to our daughter! I won’t let those bastards use her!

That girl is my daughter, Via! I will do with her what I have to do for the sake of the project! Your son is expendable and frankly so are you. Do yourself and your son a favor and not interfere with my work!

“What did you become, Cagalli Yamato? What did your birth father turn you into? And what did your mother do about it?” Rau shouted.

The ‘Ultimate Coordinator’? Is turning our daughter into that going to bring her happiness?” my birth mother wailed.

The urge to make things better has always driven progress, and that brings about happiness, Via!”

Damn you! Damn you for doing this to her!

“How much hatred grew in your mother’s heart, Cagalli? What did she do in order to save you from your own father?”

He was going somewhere with this, and I didn’t like it. In fact, it was horrifying me to the core.

“They thirsted for knowledge, they did everything they could to fulfill their desires, and ultimately, they forgot why they were doing it! Even as they proclaimed their reverence for human life, they begin distorting it! What does a person watching this do, Cagalli? What does she do?”

I was biting back my response at this point, just to keep up the pretense we were not in this room and Rau was yelling at nothing. But it was futile, pointless, and I think we all knew it. Rau had tracked us down, and he had an audience for this rant about the human race and how terrible it was.

“She begins destroying it!” Rau shouted. “Your mother, Via Hibiki, is none other than one of the founding members of Blue Cosmos!”

It took me a split second for me to register that. It took me another second to respond.

Shut up!” I got out behind my cover then and started shooting at Rau Le Creuset, but he ducked behind the corner again and I missed. It seemed the terminal Rau was using was behind that corner, so I couldn’t at least smash the damn terminal augmenting Rau’s rant.

“You’re lying!” I shouted. “Blue Cosmos has tried to kill me! My mother would never do that!”

“How would you know? You never knew her!” Rau replied.

“You don’t know her either!”

Rau laughed. “I know her better than you do, Cagalli!”

Suddenly, I heard her voice. My birth mother.

I had to kill Ulen today. I . . . I can’t explain how that feels. It was the only way to stop the madness . . . to stop his heartless experiments. I can’t let more of these children . . . these poor children, fall prey to this damnable project. Cagalli will be the last. That much I guaranteed today with his death.

Her voice . . . it was different. She was calmer, yet more distant. Like the emotion was just drained out of her.

All of this . . . all of this trying to play God, it . . . it was a mistake. All of the human lives we’ve tampered with, it’s a Pandora’s Box that should never have been opened. And I will close it, and we will be pure again.

“No.” For the first time throughout all of this, I finally froze. Hearing my birth mother say these things, it didn’t make any sense! It had to be a trick! Hell, my adoptive parents had outright said that Via Hibiki was dead! How could this be true?

This . . . everything that Ulen did . . . it’s forbidden knowledge. As will Cagalli’s existence. The Coordinators are a mistake that need to be rectified, but I will not punish my daughter for my crimes. I have hidden my daughter away, and she will live her life in peace. Asta Joule will die young, and when that happens, and when the Coordinators are destroyed . . . maybe I will have done what little I can do to ensure that humanity survives.

Rau laughed as the recording ended. “Well, that explains why Blue Cosmos took so long to track you down! Your mother hid you! But she certainly didn’t try to save you when they finally found you, did she?”

“Down, Cagalli!” Suddenly I was tackled by Mu, and a round of bullets went over our heads.

I snapped out of it enough to crawl behind cover with Mu. But the words of my mother, calm as they were, were like a bullhorn into my head. I couldn’t shake them off. It was my mother’s lack of emotion that was destroying me internally. She was calm, too calm. Like she had become sociopathic, like she had snapped.

“No matter what we learn, no matter what we obtain, nothing ever changes! This is what humanity becomes! They become envious of each other. They begin hating each other! And they kill each other! It always ends this way!”

Two more gunshots by my new position, barely missing my legs. I cried out and tucked them in. I wasn’t a soldier by that point, hearing my birth mother seemingly agree with Blue Cosmos’ ideology was enough of a shock that it had reduced me to a scared girl. A scared girl who just wanted to cover her ears and pretend Rau Le Creuset did not exist.

“Snap out of it, princess!” Mu growled. “He could have doctored that audio! All of it!”

“He didn’t.” I was told I said that. I don’t remember it, though.

“Damn it. When even saying ‘princess’ doesn’t get you riled up . . .” Mu sighed.

“If this is the only conclusion, if this is what they all want, why don’t they exterminate each other?” Rau yelled, in what seemed to be approaching his grand crescendo.

Mu decided that he was going to yell in my place, apparently. “What gives you the right to sound so superior?”

He leaned out over me and fired multiple shots at Rau Le Creuset, before ducking back. It was clear he had not killed or wounded Le Creuset, because he responded right back.

“I do have that right! Above all else in the known universe, I alone have that right! Though if Cagalli Yamato or Asta Joule want that right, they can share it with me! We all can end humanity together!”

Rau Le Creuset fired several more shots at that, hitting one of the pieces of equipment hanging above the room, causing it to crash to the ground. Smoke and debris filled the air, and I heard Flay cry out in fright, which jarred me from my trance, if only a little.

My foggy mind managed to deduce some things. Rau Le Creuset must have reloaded before coming down here; otherwise he would have run out of bullets long ago. That meant he had come prepared for an actual gunfight. He had fired way more shots than La Flaga and I at this point; and there was no indicator he was running low. That meant we weren’t going to wait him out any time soon.

Suddenly, another recording played; this one from my birth father. “But human cloning is illegal!”

I am paying you enough money to break the law. Some laws can be changed. After all, they’re only made by humans.

“Dad?” Mu La Flaga gasped, but he seemed more pissed about hearing his own father’s voice than surprised.

But still!” My birth father protested, albeit feebly.

This technology you’ve invented came at great cost. You should put it to use. You want funding for further research, don’t you? Don’t you want to see where your research goes? Don’t you want to see if you can make life the way you want it to be?

“I’m surprised you don’t remember!” Rau Le Creuset yelled as the din of the broken equipment faded away. “We met once before, Mu!”

What?” Mu shouted, clearly as bewildered as I felt in that moment.

“Long, long ago, before we ever met on the battlefield. Want to know how?”

The voice of Mu’s father played again. “Are you sure that’s me in there?

Silence. Clearly my own birth father didn’t want to talk.

Oh well,” Mu’s father said, fatalistically. “He will be my successor in any case. Why should that woman’s child be my heir? I will make sure he is educated well, and won’t grow up into another weakling like my wife’s son.

What was with our fathers and talking about their children like they were possessions of other people? Why couldn’t they be moral? Or at least have some semblance of empathy and sanity?

Rau just chuckled at that recording. “I am he, that arrogant fool, who thought he could thwart death itself with his money . . . Al Da Flaga. However, I am merely his defective clone!”

The hell?” Mu shouted. “My dad’s clone? Who do you expect to believe all of that crap you just spouted off?”

“I don’t want to believe it either! But unfortunately, I have to live with it!”

I caught movement behind our position. It was Flay. What was she doing?

Suddenly, I heard more footsteps. Rau sounded smarmier than ever as I listened to them. “Ah, Asta, have you finally come to join us? Or have you been listening the whole time?”

“Play the recording with my mother that you say you have,” Asta said softly. “Play it.”

“Sure, why not? I’ve already revealed to Cagalli and Mu their darkest secrets! Why not play yours too?”

The audio roared to life again. I heard my birth father talking, calmly, almost like he was at a bedside.

Your fertility is rare for a Coordinator. I know you can have another child, possibly several more, but are you sure you want to do this?

I believe I have no choice in the matter but take this chance on my daughter.” I was amazed how young Asta’s mother sounded. Was she only a teenager when she did this?

As if confirming this, the youthful voice added “I did not think the consequences of my actions through. My parents believe I’m too young and I will miscarry, as do my doctors. This is not a healthy pregnancy. It took a lot of careful thought, but I feel this is the best course of action to take for her. If it succeeds, she will be the best among us. If it fails, it might as well be the miscarriage they’ve been predicting for me.

I heard Asta gasp softly. Rau chuckled. “Don’t you see, Asta? Even to your mother, you were nothing more than a pawn, an inconvenience she felt she had to justify! She decided you were better off as a science experiment than left in her womb!”

“A science experiment?” Asta asked softly.

“What do you think we all are? Me, you, Cagalli Yamato? We’re nothing but science experiments concocted to somehow advance the human race! Don’t you understand now, any of you? Aren’t we all abominations in the end?”

He fired a warning shot at Mu and I, in case either of us were thinking of trying to lean out. “That’s why I’m opening the final door! I’m going to make those insatiable fools’ wishes come true! It has been the inevitable destiny of humanity since the destruction of the ‘innovative society’! We are the instruments that will destroy the human race once and for all!!”

“What the hell is the ‘innovative society’?” Mu yelled.

“That is another story for another time. The demise of that society is quite delicious to discover,” Rau replied. “Especially since they have gone through so much effort to cover it up. After all, they want to erase history to keep forbidden knowledge away from the masses. They don’t realize all that does is allow history to repeat itself and destroy everything all over again!”

“And you think you should make history repeat itself?” Mu yelled.

“It’s already repeating itself! I’m just accelerating, codifying, the process,” Rau replied.

I did lean out then, and I saw Rau Le Creuset twirling around a jump drive. “Here, Asta! I have in here the reason you and Cagalli exist in particular. You two were born for an even more selfish reason than I was! You want to see what the ‘innovative society’ left for you? The answer lies inside.”

He flipped it to Asta, who presumably caught it. “What . . . what makes you think I’d do this for you, C-Commander?”

“I think this might convince you to!”

That youthful voice again, Asta’s mother. “You’ve turned my daughter into a freak, Doctor Hibiki!”

I warned you about the process, Ms. Joule! That this is largely untried technology! Your daughter’s survival, however, means that I’m on the right track! The next child might succeed next time!”

Shove it up your ass, Hibiki! My daughter’s life is ruined! She’s practically pointless the way you left her! She won’t even make it to the age of ten! What kind of child has a life like that? She’s better off dead!”

“P-Pointless?” Asta asked, shaken.

I should never have allowed you to do this to her! Asta is, basically, defective! And I’ll have to waste all of my time on her for no reason because she won’t even make it to puberty before she dies! What was the point of having her in the first place?

“N-No, Mom . . .” Asta whispered softly, tears choking her voice.

“Don’t you get it, Asta Joule? You have no loving parents! You were supposed to die years upon years ago! You’re nothing more than a defective luxury, suffering because of human experimentation! What makes you think you are thought of the same as all other humans?”

Suddenly, Flay tore from her cover, holding what looked like a piece of metal, screaming as she rushed Rau Le Creuset.

Rau immediately turned his weapon on her, but Flay was running at a full sprint, without any regard for her own survival, and as Rau aimed at Flay, she was already there, and she stabbed the metal shard into his stomach.

AGH!” Rau cried, but Flay, using all of her strength, muscled him into a terminal and began wrestling the pistol out of his right hand. Before I could tell what was going on, Flay had the pistol turned right on Rau and fired two shots right into his chest. Rau collapsed on the terminal and rolled onto the floor, wheezing from the wounds.

I was stunned. That had been Flay who did that. Flay.

“That a girl!” Mu said. “Just the way I taught her!”

Flay, without hesitating, turned her stolen pistol on Asta, but I could hear footsteps of Asta running for her life as Flay fired. All I heard are deflections.

“She’s getting away!”

“There’s no escape for her,” Mu said. “Dearka’s out there. I assume you left him orders to kill her if she tried to escape, correct?”

“Y-Yes,” I said, remembering that after a moment. So it was going to end, whether at our hands, or at Dearka’s. No matter what happened in here, Rau and Asta were destined to lose. Wasn’t that it?

Rau laughed raggedly at the ground. His mask had come off, and he was feebly trying to hide his eyes from us, but as he rolled onto his back, his right hand stopped covering his eyes, and I saw them.

It was like staring at Mu La Flaga, except different. Older, perhaps. I was surprised at how unexceptional Rau’s appearance truly was. I guess if you are a clone of someone else, though, a completely normal appearance doesn’t seem normal to you at all, and you would want to hide your face from yourself.

“How do you feel, Le Creuset? Your plans are ruined. I’m surprised you’re laughing,” Mu said.

“Oh, they’re not ruined,” Rau managed from the floor. “This . . . changes nothing. All that means is that humanity will follow after me. I won't witness their demise myself.”

Shut up!” Flay shouted as she aimed Rau’s pistol right at Rau.

Mu put her arm in front of Flay. “Don’t shoot. Let him talk. I am sure he wants to tell us everything before his dying breath.”

Rau laughed. “Sure . . . why not? It’s not like telling you will make any difference anyway.”

He coughed then, nearly rolling on his side, but Mu grabbed him and forced him to remain on his back, so his blue eyes, so identical to Mu’s, would continue staring at ours.

“I noticed your . . . your Prince Kira . . . he’s begun broadcasting a peace message using L4’s transmitter. So I decided to do the same thing . . . broadcast a stream of information directly to Muruta Azrael onboard the Dominion.”

“What?” Mu asked, shocked.

Rau coughed blood out of his mouth, which trickled down his chin. I thought he was already entering his death throes, but he followed that up by chuckling. He wasn’t done yet.

“I brought with me all of the information relating to the neutron jammer canceller,” Rau said. “And now all of that is in Muruta Azrael’s possession. What . . . what do you think one of the leaders of Blue Cosmos . . . will do with such information?”

“You bastard!” Mu yelled. Now he was the one aiming the gun at Rau.

“You can’t stop it, even if you could I wouldn’t tell you how,” Rau said. “So your Prince Kira may summon five ships of defectors, ten, twenty, thirty, it doesn’t matter. Muruta Azrael will use this knowledge to launch nuclear weapons directly at PLANT, and PLANT will respond with its own doomsday weapons, one of whom I have given to Asta Joule.”

“That’s how you’re going to end it all? Have both sides destroy each other and their civilizations in the process?” Mu shouted.

“Isn’t the most deserving way for humanity to die?” Rau asked. “Torn apart by their own hands, annihilated by the knowledge they strive to maintain?”

“Good luck with that,” Mu growled. “Especially since Asta Joule has no way out of this facility! She can’t assist with your doomsday scenario if she can’t even get out of the building!”

“You think Dearka Elsman, of all pilots, will be able to stop her?” Rau rasped. “I had a strike team waiting on the outskirts of the colony for my order, which I had given while the three of you cowered in here. Even if Elsman still lives, he will be kept much too busy to prevent Asta Joule’s escape.”

I had a feeling that Rau’s prophecy was going to be proven true. Dearka wasn’t incompetent, but he couldn’t fight off a whole team and keep Asta from escaping if she hijacked one of our Mobile Suits. Not even I could.

Rau looked right at Flay. “Judging by the youth of Allster, I am sure her password is the easiest for Asta to crack. She’ll just steal your standard-issue Mobile Suit and fly it right back to the Vesalius.”

Flay made a snarling sound, and this time, when she aimed at Rau, Mu did not stop her. “I’ve heard enough out of you! I’m not letting you die on your terms!”

This time, she was allowed to fire.

And she did.

Two more shots in the chest. And a final round in the neck.

And then, after a soft gagging noise, Rau Le Creuset breathed no more.

In the end, what lied beneath the eye-covering mask of his was a psychotic man who only wanted everyone to die.

Mu spoke for all of us as he turned away from Rau’s corpse.

“Good riddance.”
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yes, Flay killed Rau Le Creuset. Irony is ironic.

I admit this is a narrative risk on my part. From my perspective, the best way for the story to go is this route: killing Rau off and pray Asta is a strong enough OC to carry the final villain baton. I didn't want a straight reprisal of the original show's ending, nor attempt to bring about any of the proposed endings to Gundam SEED because hardcore fans could predict and spoil those.

So I decided to do an original route. I hope that pleases people. While there will be elements of the final showdown present in this scenario, the final confrontations will be much, much different.

Chapter 76 will clear up the loose ends in this chapter. I originally ended this chapter with more material, but I decided to move it to 76. It will clear a few things up, particularly regarding with Ezalia Joule.

I hope you enjoyed the newest chapter, and look forward to the new chapters to come.
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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The Green Flame
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Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 75 9/2/15)

Post by The Green Flame » Thu Sep 03, 2015 9:18 am

Awww snap off the rails we go. I love it. Gotta say I like how this chapter turned out way more than the original episode. Adds that extra flavor.

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Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 75 9/2/15)

Post by rebel_cheese » Thu Sep 03, 2015 11:55 am

The Green Flame wrote:Awww snap off the rails we go. I love it. Gotta say I like how this chapter turned out way more than the original episode. Adds that extra flavor.
I'm glad you liked it! That's basically what I was shooting for, a lot of new and original flavor to go along with the basic concepts.

What I'm primarily worried about is the twist with Via Hibiki. I did sneak in an out for myself in case people don't like it, but I liked the idea of Cagalli and Kira's parents going to opposite extremes because the Ultimate Coordinator project. I will mention that Via would be an example of a extremist with good intentions as opposed to a genocidal maniac like Muruta Azrael, though.
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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Vent Noir
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Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 75 9/2/15)

Post by Vent Noir » Mon Sep 07, 2015 6:46 pm

Given the character of Rau, you and other readers might be interested in this article:

The Age of Misanthropic Villains - Why do we like them?
Vent Noir

@AJDynon on Twitter

April 7, 1979: The first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam premieres. Fanboys declare Gundam "Ruined FOREVER".

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Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 75 9/2/15)

Post by rebel_cheese » Thu Sep 24, 2015 8:09 pm

Sorry this took so long. I was caught up with writing an original novel, and actually trying to finish the final battle in Bloodlines. Which I finally did. Bloodlines still isn't done, there's wrap-up stuff to do, but the chapters I was writing were so intense that I couldn't really focus on actually posting this fic until I knew the battle was done.

Also, it's my birthday, again, so I should be giving the chapter away like tradition calls for.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Chapter Seventy-Six: The Outlaw Torn

“We need to get out of here as soon as possible,” Mu said to us as he began walking away from Rau Le Creuset’s body. “Yank the drive he plugged into the terminal. It might be useful.”

“I got it,” I said and I walked over to the terminal where Rau had his audio horrors blasting out at us while he ranted. I wondered how much of my birth mother was on here, and if she was, whether anything else she said would support Rau’s assertion she had co-founded Blue Cosmos.

I had a sinking pit of my stomach that told me Rau had spoken the truth. I couldn’t disprove any of what he said, and considering he had some of the same audio files my parents had, it was looking likely at least the majority of the things he had said, and had played, were true.

As I moved to yank it out, however, I heard a voice from the speakers. I recognized it as one of the voices who played right before Flay had rushed Rau, it was the teenaged Ezalia Joule.

I feel like I made a mistake . . . doing this. Maybe Asta would’ve been born if I kept her. Maybe she would’ve miscarried like they predicted. It’s hard to think that I’m holding her, and in less than a decade she’ll be too weak to stand upright.

A man’s voice. “What do you plan to do with her?

I’m going to give her the best life she can. I’ll make sure she never wants for anything, and give her the best care I can. She’s already been punished enough for my mistakes. She’ll be loved and cherished until the day she dies.

I heard a soft squeal in the background, and I heard Ezalia’s voice again, softer. “That’s right, you heard me, didn’t you? I love you, Asta. I always will.

Hearing that voice put Ezalia’s comments in an even sharper contrast than before. Rau had selectively edited Ezalia to make it seem like she despised her daughter, but then this was in here, proving that Ezalia did indeed love Asta. Rau had just force-fed a lie into Asta’s head to make her do what Rau wanted.

“What was that?” Flay asked.

“That was Asta’s mother. I have to get this to Asta before she does what Rau Le Creuset wants,” I replied as I ejected the drive from the terminal.

“Let’s worry about getting back to our machines first,” Mu said, and then he groaned in pain. I looked at his side, and he was bleeding worse than before. It was looking extremely serious, actually.

“How about we worry about your wound first? You’re bleeding, badly!” I replied.

“Don’t worry about it. What matters is catching up to the girl before she . . .”

I marched over to Mu and put his arm over my shoulder. “Flay, help me out here!”

“Y-Yes, Cagalli!”

With Flay helping me, we were strong enough to help Mu begin walking up the stairs.

Mu chuckled softly. “Stupid kids.”

“Maybe we are stupid, but we’re your stupid kids, and we’re not going to let you bleed to death down here. The moment we get you to a first aid kit we’re patching you up, sir.”

Mu sighed. “I guess I’m not arguing about that.”

“I wouldn’t recommend it.” I just hoped we remembered how we got in here. The place was an absolute maze.

And it was only a matter of time before Asta would be able to get away.
***
When we got outside, it was pretty clear what was going on. There was a lot more wreckage than before, I could see, above us, Buster doing battle with multiple ZAFT Mobile Suits, and generally getting the better of them. However, Flay’s Astray had indeed gone missing as Rau predicted. Asta had been able to bust through Flay’s password and take off in it, presumably towards ZAFT lines.

Flay just sighed as she saw that. “Captain Badgiruel will kill me for this!”

“I’ll make sure she won’t kill ya,” Mu said. “I’m not going to get in Kisaka’s way, though.”

“Ugh,” Flay grunted in response.

We placed Mu in the cockpit of the damaged strike. “Flay, you’re coming with me,” I said as we patched Mu up the best we could.

“All right,” Flay replied.

“Check to make sure the cockpit still has an operational pressure seal. We’re not going to have Mu die on us for something stupid.”

“It looks like it still is.”

“What do you mean ‘looks like’?”

“Um . . . I mean it is! It literally is!”

“You girls aren’t making me feel any better right now,” Mu said.

“Shut up and take your medicine like a man,” I said, and I slammed a painkiller into his arm.

Mu, of course, cried out in pain over that. In hindsight, that was kind of mean of me, but looking back on it, it’s actually kind of hilarious. Almost like we scripted it that way.

“All right. We’re going to drag the Strike back to the Archangel,” I said. “I’m keeping Flay with me because there’s more room in the Freedom’s cockpit. I was scrunched in the Strike’s cockpit with not just one, but two other people once, and I don’t want anyone else to have to relive that experience.”

“Just don’t let us get shot,” Mu said.

“I won’t. See you soon.”

I slammed the cockpit shut and ran off towards the Freedom. Flay had patched herself up at the same time, but as she ran off after me, she said “You think we can make it out of here, through that battle?”

“It looks like Buster’s finished cleaning up! We should be able to,” I replied.

We both got in and I turned the Freedom on. “Dearka! Dearka, can you hear me?”

Oh, you guys are still alive? What the hell happened in there?”

“We killed Rau Le Creuset. However, he pushed Asta to run off and do something stupid. You know what happened to her? Flay’s Astray is missing.”

Yeah, she got the Astray,” Dearka sighed. “I couldn’t stop her. Been too busy with these guys.

I saw another one of the ZAFT GINNs crash down in front of us and explode. Dearka was defeating them one by one. I admit, after defeating him so many times when I was on the Archangel, it made it easy to underestimate him. He clearly wasn’t one for be trifled with.

I’m running out of power. Care to lend a hand?” Dearka asked.

“I’m taking off now. Hang on.”

I shut the cockpit, making sure Flay was firmly nestled next to me, and launched the Freedom into the air. Flay cried out, even with her trying to be somewhat snug, she nearly went flying across the cockpit.

There were two of the GINNs left. I immediately locked onto one as I made it into the air, and I blasted him out of the air, and the two surviving pieces fell towards the ground.

“Got the last one? I have to pick up La Flaga,” I said.

Yeah, I got him.

As I flew towards the Strike, Dearka defeated the last foe in the battleground. I examined the radar, and there was no sign of Flay’s Astray. Asta was long gone.

I gritted my teeth. I had to know what Asta was thinking, but I had heard things just as bad, if not worse, from Rau. I wasn’t going off all insane and wanting to take revenge on humanity! I wasn’t going to take out my pain on everyone! I wasn’t going to do what Rau wanted!

Why, then? Why would Asta do this? What made her thought process different than mine?

My birth mother’s words echoed throughout my brain as I picked the Strike up. I couldn’t believe it. My birth mother would not support this type of hatred. If she did, that meant she’d signed off on things like what happened to Murrue. I just couldn’t believe that my birth mother would do these things. Support this kind of evil.

I grabbed the Strike and blasted off then, heading back towards the way we came in. “Dearka, we’re leaving.”

I’m coming.” A pause. “What happened in there?

“Rau Le Creuset is dead.” I wasn’t sure of what else to say. “And the war is about to get much worse.”

Joy.”

If Dearka had been in there with us, I doubted he would be so sarcastic.

He would have his chance to hear Rau told us soon enough.
***
Our coms were able to reach the Archangel as we approached the dock. “This is Cagalli Yamato on GUNDAM Freedom. Rau Le Creuset is dead. Flay’s Astray is gone. Mu La Flaga is wounded and the Strike is damaged. Where’s your location?”

I saw Natarle Badgiruel’s face then in the next moment. “What?!” she yelled.

Mu chuckled. “I thought she’d react that way.”

We’re in the middle of a battle situation! We’re trying to fend off the Dominion. The Eternal and Kusanagi are dealing with a ZAFT force that’s emerged on our flank! Hurry up and get over here!”

Somehow, this didn’t surprise me. I felt a pit in my stomach. Just what I needed, more fighting.

Drop the Strike in our general direction, Cagalli!” Badgiruel yelled. “We need you to try to hold off the Alliance’s Mobile Suits. This is a defensive battle, don’t get any stupid ideas about attacking the Dominion like last time!

“Understood,” I said. I wasn’t going to attack the Dominion anyway. This battle was going to be hard enough with a passenger onboard, attacking the Dominion with a passenger was borderline suicide.

I accelerated towards the hangar bay and dropped the Strike so it would float inside the bay. Without stopping, I blasted past the Archangel and towards the ensuing battle. It looked like Athrun was fighting the three remaining GUNDAMs of Joan Memphis’ little squad by himself.

And he said I was reckless.

“Flay, hang on. This could get bad.” I was already feeling fatigued and exhausted. Fighting three GUNDAMs after everything that happened was less than ideal to me. But I didn’t have much of a choice.

I engaged my auto-lock and fired at the three GUNDAMs, making them scatter away from the battle. “Athrun!”

Cagalli? You’re finally back!”

“Fill me in on what’s going on later. First we have to-”

My thought was interrupted by the Forbidden charging at me like a berserker, its cannon firing at me haphazardly.

“Hold onto something, Flay!”

I dove away from the Forbidden, just as it came slashing at me with its Scythe. Flay was screaming in my ear as I kept trying to dodge it. It seemed the Forbidden had a fixation on me, but when he tried to cut into my channel, I blocked him, as it just sounded like random screaming to me.

My alarms beeped. The Raider was after me too!

I raised my shield and blocked the first salvo from the Raider, and then spun in time to slash the Forbidden’s scythe into pieces as he tried to cut me in half. I switched back to the rifle to shoot at the Forbidden as it tried to loop around the edge of the battle zone, but it was moving too fast for me to get a lock.

“I think I should’ve stayed with La Flaga,” Flay said next to me.

“Starting to think that would’ve been a better idea,” I said.

And now here came the Calamity, trying to shoot at me too. They were all targeting me.

This time the Raider tried to cut into my channel, and I could not stop him in time. “There you are! We’ve been waiting for you! You killed the only hot girl allowed near us!

Flay, the culprit of the act Clotho was accusing me of, chuckled nervously next to me. I had no idea how to respond to that in words, but I knew how to respond to that in action.

“I think you have better things to worry about!” I fired right at the Raider, scraping him, and forced the GUNDAM to back off.

The Forbidden was shooting at me again. My shield blocked the first shot, but became badly dented and unusable, so I had to ditch it and fly off.

“Athrun! A little help here!”

I’m engaging both the Calamity and the Raider!” Athrun replied.

That left the Forbidden to me. Lovely.

I fired at the Forbidden’s cannon. With both the scythe and the cannon unusable, the Forbidden would lose both of its primary weapons. That wouldn’t leave it very much to work with.

He came diving in again, and I fired the machine-guns in the Freedom’s head to force him to retreat, flying below me. I fired at the top section of the Forbidden and I saw an explosion erupt, but the Forbidden was clearly still moving. It was not a killing blow, I’d need to land more hits or find something stronger.

I hit the Raider! That should make it back off!” Athrun yelled.

“I’ve done the same to the Forbidden.” I was sweating buckets in this helmet, I raised my visor and tried to shake the sweat off of me. “Athrun, where’s the Dominion’s position?”

A pause. “It’s trying to flank the Archangel by flying through the debris around the station! It’s in close proximity to us!

Another pause. “Cagalli, don’t do something stupid.”

“I’m not,” I replied as I went through my comm channels. “I’m going to cause a distraction.”

That was kind of a lie, but I knew I could not live with myself if I did not at least make the effort to try.

All of a sudden, I was staring into Murrue’s scarred face. Flay actually gasped next to me, apparently she hadn’t seen Murrue’s face with that scar slashing across it.

Who is this?” Murrue snarled. It actually hurt to hear such a tone from her. That wasn’t the Murrue I knew at all.

“You should recognize me, Murrue. My name is Cagalli Yamato. You saved my life.”

Her eyes widened. “What?”

“We shared the same ship, the one you’ve been shooting at, for two months. You were my captain, Murrue. And you saved me on an island in the Indian Ocean, where they were going to drug and brainwash me, just like they did to you.”

There was something different in Murrue’s eyes this time. It wasn’t just anger. It was panic. Was there a hint of recognition there, that she did remember me from somewhere? “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Someone out there do something about that machine!”

She tried changing the channel, but I knew all of the Earth Alliance channels due to actually being an Earth Alliance pilot, and I found her again within a few seconds. “I know you recognize me, Murrue. I see it in your eyes. You know you’ve seen me somewhere before. You just don’t know where.”

Everyone on that ship tried that trick with me! You think you can do any better?

She was panicking. She knew. All of a sudden, I had a brief, flighty feeling that I might actually get through to her.

“Why are you so scared, Murrue? Is it because you recognize my face, my voice? Or is it something else?”

Damn it! What do you think you’re doing?”

“You are not Sariel Leighton or whatever name they gave you. You’re Murrue Ramius, and I know she’s in there somewhere, and I’m giving her a reason to wake up.”

I don’t think-

“Damn it, Murrue! Wake up! You recognize me and you know it! Wake up!”

That’s when the channel changed, but it wasn’t by Murrue’s doing. I was suddenly staring at a blonde-haired, blue-eyed man, who was clearly sitting in some sort of isolated room. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Who are you?” I asked. He was young, with a charismatic, confident tone, like a young entrepreneur. But the sinister way he was conducting himself was putting me off.

My name is Muruta Azrael. And I know who you are, there’s no need for introductions, Cagalli Yamato.

All of a sudden, I was different.

I had found him. My target. The person I had been searching for ever since the first attempt to kill me in Orb months ago.

I saw the seed, and it shattered, and I was ready to kill him, damn the consequences. “Let Murrue go. I’m only warning you once.”

Now why would I do that, and give up the captain of this ship? She’s much better off with me than she is with your pathetic little band that can’t even fight off a few ships properly.

“Damn you!” I felt the most ferocious anger I had felt in months, and I was ready to kill him. I was going to make a beeline right to that ship and blow it to hell.

You have no leverage. I know you don’t want to kill her, Yamato. She’s your precious captain, after all. You destroy the ship, she dies too.

He was right. If I went through with my threat, I would kill Murrue. But compared to the situation she was in now . . .

I wanted to cry, but I focused on channeling my anger. Right at the man I was talking to.

“Who says I won’t do that, bastard? Then she won’t be your slave anymore!”

I accelerated right for the Dominion, and aimed my rifle at it. Much to my satisfaction, Muruta Azrael’s face became nervous. “Aw, crap.

“You’ll pay for what you’ve done to Murrue! I swear it on my life!”

I had only gotten one shot off when I suddenly felt an explosion rock the entire cockpit. Flay screamed next to me, and I nearly lost control of the Freedom.

Alarms were going off. It hit me that I was under attack by the Raider. It was damaged as well, but it was coming for me.

“Stay out of this!” I fired at the Raider, blowing off its right leg and sending it out of control.

“Cagalli, we have to pull back!” Flay shouted.

“No, we’re not! Not when I have this bastard right where I want him!”

My engines weren’t working right. It seemed I had lost one from the Raider’s shot. It didn’t matter to me at that moment. I could still maneuver well enough with the ones I had.

Azrael chuckled nervously as I began shooting at the Dominion. I wasn’t causing much more than structural damage, but when I got around it and went after its engines. “Well, in hindsight, I’m glad you escaped. You’re too angry to be of much use to me. Your captain works a lot better for my purposes.

“You won’t have any purposes when I’m done with you!”

I maneuvered around the defensive flak that the Dominion was sending my way. It was getting close, closer than it would have been if I had all of my engines, but I didn’t care. I was so close.

“Cagalli, stop!” Flay shouted.

“Shut up, Flay! I’m taking him out!”

That’s when another explosion erupted and I lost control of the Freedom. I was sent spiraling away, and I barely got control in time to fly the Freedom away from the new salvos the Dominion was sending my way.

My left leg had suffered intense structural damage, it was barely attached. The alarms were going off with more intensity, and the incessant beeping was driving me insane.

Azrael laughing at me wasn’t helping. “You should listen to your friend there, Cagalli Yamato! Did you seriously think your Mobile Suit would be enough to destroy my ship?

“Shut up! I’m not through with you yet!”

Azrael dared to laugh again. “You just don’t get it! I’ve made your captain into the captain I need! And she’s quite pretty at that. Shame about the scar, though. I’ll have to convince her to have it surgically removed once the war’s over.

What was he saying? That wasn’t just ‘needs’ there, he was talking like . . .

“Oh my God. What have you done to her?” I asked.

I told you she was mine, Yamato. In every sense of the word.”

My heart stopped beating, and the tears finally fell from my eyes and floated away from me.

Every bone, every muscle, every fiber in my body, started to uncontrollably shake.

I lost it.

“You're dead! You're fucking dead, you ZOINKS bastard! I’ll tear you apart until there’s nothing left!” I shot at the Dominion uselessly as I tried to force my crippled machine to move. The smug look on Azrael’s face was just enraging me more and more.

“How dare you do this! How dare you do this to Murrue! You monster! You murderous piece of ZOINKS! How dare you!”

Flay reached across and killed the channel, and then grabbed my arm. “Let go of me!”

“We have to pull back!” Flay shouted.

“I’m not done with him yet!”

“He’s going to be done with us! Stop it!”

“I’m not done until he’s dead!”

That’s when Flay reached across and physically forced me back into my seat. “My suit is compromised, the moment we have a vacuum leak in here I’m dead. The Freedom can barely fly much less fight. Get ahold of yourself, Cagalli! I’m not dying here because of you!”

“I don’t care!” I shouted as I tried to struggle.

“Well I do! And so does Kira!”

“Kira?” I asked, as it suddenly hit me. That’s right, my brother.

“I’m not letting you get us killed out here and leave Kira all alone! I won’t let you do it. I don’t care what happens to me, Kira can find another girlfriend, but he only has one member of his family left and that is you! Now turn this thing around!”

I knew. I knew she was right, and I didn’t care. I saw the Dominion continuing to move, farther and farther away from me. All I wanted was to keep chasing after the Dominion, but it was pointless and I knew it in my heart. The Freedom just wasn’t going to be able to keep going.

“All right,” I finally said, weakly as I lost sight of the seed in my mind’s eye. “All right. You win.”

“Thank you.” Flay finally let go of me. “I’m sorry.”

“No,” I managed. Now the tears were flowing freely, as I finally turned the Freedom around to head back to the Archangel, or the Eternal, I didn’t know or cared where at this point.
“I’m the one who should be sorry, Flay.”

I set the autopilot to the closest ship, the Archangel, and then I buried my face in my hands and cried.

My memories of the kind-hearted, motherly captain who I had relied on for those months in space and in the desert flashed in front of me. And she was still there, being taken advantage of, being programmed by that snake Azrael. If any remnants of Murrue were left inside that woman, it was a living hell.

And I hadn’t gotten Murrue to break free or simply set her free.

Flay’s arms wrapped around me. The thought of being hugged by Flay nearly repulsed me, but I couldn't push her away. I had to accept that, just like everyone else, Flay had changed too, and she, for the lack of a better word, had really become my friend. “I know, Cagalli. It’s okay.”

“It’s not okay,” I sobbed. “It’s not.”

I looked at the Dominion one last time before it vanished due to the change in angle.

“It won’t be okay until he’s dead and she’s free. One way or another.”
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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Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 76 9/24/15)

Post by The Green Flame » Thu Sep 24, 2015 11:53 pm

Well a happy birthday to ya! Continuing to ride off the differences of the last chapter, Flay continues kicking it with the Archangel (for obvious reasons) and Azrael takes personal property to an uncomfortable level. All in all good stuff.

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Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 76 9/24/15)

Post by rebel_cheese » Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:28 am

The Green Flame wrote:Well a happy birthday to ya! Continuing to ride off the differences of the last chapter, Flay continues kicking it with the Archangel (for obvious reasons) and Azrael takes personal property to an uncomfortable level. All in all good stuff.
When I said that the Murrue resurrection was likely going to be the darkest, most controversial aspect of the fic, I did not mean the resurrection itself. While I don't want to get too graphic, I found it impossible to not infer at what could be going on. Azrael is enough of a monster to plausibly do such a thing.

Flay is going to be getting a Gundam upgrade soon as well.
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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Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 76 9/24/15)

Post by Vent Noir » Sat Sep 26, 2015 8:40 am

A belated happy birthday, and keep up the good work!
Vent Noir

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Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 76 9/24/15)

Post by rebel_cheese » Thu Jan 21, 2016 5:38 pm

This has been a long time in coming. Sorry about the wait.
______________________________________________________________________________________

Chapter Seventy-Seven: Nutshell

I parked my broken GUNDAM in the hangar bay, and waited for the pressure to seal before I would dare open my cockpit. I wanted to continue crying.

She was out there. Murrue Ramius, my captain, the woman who saved me, was now suffering the fate intended for me. I should have been in her position, brain-washed and a tool, but instead, by saving me, she was now the one suffering.

She didn’t deserve it. Any of it. All she wanted was to save me. That was all she wanted! And instead there she was, reduced to being Azrael’s little pet, suffering inside her own body, if she was even still aware of what had happened to her anymore.

No, she was still aware. She had recognized me. She recognized me. She knew who I was, and that was not because of some intelligence report or photograph. She knew, on some deep, hidden level, that she had met me before.

Murrue was still in there somewhere. She recognized me, that proved it. I didn’t know why it was me and not Mu La Flaga or Natarle Badgiruel who had gotten her to remember, even if it was just a tiny bit. I wasn’t so sure I cared. I had my proof that Murrue still existed, and that maybe she was still fighting underneath whatever programming Azrael did to her.

How I would save her, I did not know. Despite what I had promised everyone, though, I felt I still, somehow, had to try. I knew this, even as I managed to pilot my crippled GUNDAM into the Archangel’s hangar bay, as the battle continued to be waged.

“Wonder what they’re trying to do,” Flay managed.

“I don’t know.” And I didn’t really care. Though if I cared to guess, we would be trying to break out somehow and escape.

The hangar bay repressurized, and Flay reached around me and opened the cockpit. “Come on. We need to see if there’s anything we can still do to help.”

“Like what?” I asked. “The Freedom is a wreck.”

Flay looked at me sternly. “Cagalli, please . . .”

I knew what Flay was saying without her really needing to say it. I needed to wake the hell up and get back to work.

Though what ‘work’ actually entitled, I had no idea. My machine was completely trashed, after all.

But, nevertheless . . . “All right, Flay.”

I followed her out of the cockpit and we floated down to the door, just as the ship briefly rocked. It didn’t seem lethal otherwise we all would’ve been blown up by that point.

Flay ran to the nearest communicator. “Captain Badgiruel! This is Lieutenant Allster! I have Cagalli with me, we’ve docked safely! Requesting instructions!”

Your instructions are to sit down and shut up until we’re finished with the battle! Over and out!

Well, one thing was for sure, Badgiruel hadn’t lost her gift with eloquent orders.

Flay turned to me, a nervous smile on her face. “I don’t think she’s happy with us.”

“No duh, Flay.” I leaned against the wall and closed my eyes for a minute.

I wasn’t sure which I was dreading more, getting blown up, or facing Badgiruel’s wrath over my stupidity.

Neither seemed to be merciful, and I had the most helpless feeling in my gut the more I thought about it.

I was never going to do something dumb like that again, even though I wanted to save Murrue. There was no way I was going to let myself be this helpless ever again.

Not when everyone was counting on me.
***
Athrun told me the battle back in space flipped pretty dramatically not long after I docked with the Archangel. Originally the plan was to break out by attacking Rau Le Creuset’s ZAFT fleet directly, but that radically changed when something happened that we never anticipated.

We got reinforcements. Kira’s radio call actually worked.

An Earth detachment of eight ships arrived, and threatened to cut off the Dominion. The Dominion quickly high-tailed it out of there, which meant the ZAFT ships had our completely undivided attention. Two of them, including the flagship Vesalius, were blown into oblivion, and I learned later that indeed, Captain Ades, who had briefly commanded us for that brief sortie before Spitbreak, was onboard when it blew.

I didn’t get to know Captain Ades very well, so it didn’t affect me like it affected Athrun, Nicol, and Dearka. But it was clear that they had lost someone they had cared about. And I still felt a little shaken up at the thought of someone else I knew had died during our war. We had all been on his side before, and then we turned against him, and he was dead indirectly because we betrayed him.

That was war for you. People you know will die. Others change into people you can’t recognize. It just seemed to be a particularly cruel twist, with me having fought on every side in this conflict and Murrue’s transformation so much more macabre than anyone could possibly imagine.

There was no word whether Asta Joule was on the casualty list. I found myself in the strange position of hoping she was dead. It was clear Rau was trying to push her into joining him in his insanity, or have her execute his plans if he fell. It was not a sentiment I liked having, but it would make me a lot more comfortable if her remains were floating out there. But there was no sign at all, and until I knew, there would be an uncomfortable sensation in the back of my mind, telling me that she would come for me in order to achieve vengeance, whatever that entailed.

Before we could get much more settled, three ZAFT ships showed up, also with the intention of defecting, though only one was a combat vessel, the others were supply ships. So all of a sudden, our three-ship fleet had increased to fourteen ships in total.

I already knew before I approached the Archangel’s bridge what the new strategy was. We weren’t going to run anymore. We were going to stand our ground and consolidate it. L4 and all of its horrors and secrets belonged to us.

And its repair facilities, for that matter.

The ache in my stomach as I approached the bridge gripped me like a vise the closer and closer I got, until I was just drifting in the zero gravity towards the door. Somehow, eventually, I entered the bridge, and I saw Natarle Badgiruel and the rest of the principal Archangel crew, along with a significant amount of personnel from nearby ships, all around us.

Naturally, Badgiruel focused her attention on me. “Cagalli! What the hell were you thinking?”

I found myself quite unable to meet her in the eye. “I’m sorry, Captain.”

Badgiruel would have kept chewing me out, but La Flaga, himself still wounded, gripped Badgiruel’s left shoulder. “Now’s not the right time for this. She’s been through a lot the last twenty-four hours.”

Badgiruel still shot me an angry look, but then she looked away from me. “Fine.”

I deserved a chewing out, and I had the sudden realization I would have preferred it if Badgiruel had ignored Mu La Flaga and continued ripping my head off. At least then I knew it would be over with, that what I was dreading was over.

“I don’t see what you’re so concerned about.” It was a new voice, from directly behind me. I turned and saw a tall, almost domineering Japanese woman at the entrance to the bridge.

“You’ve nearly quadrupled your fighting strength and I highly doubt we’ll be the last to join up with you,” the woman said.

“Admiral Misora!” I had never seen Natarle Badgiruel in brain-lock before, but that’s what she looked like at that moment. She was clearly unsure if whether to salute or maintain the informality that we had since leaving Orb.

“Who?” I muttered under my breath. Just what we needed, a pompous admiral to come in and screw everything up.

Misora floated past me and paid me no mind like she didn’t hear me, though I had a feeling she had. She got in-between Gladys and Kisaka, her arms folded in front of her chest. “Don’t worry about saluting me, Captain Badgiruel. None of us are in the military anymore; we’re mercenaries, refugees, survivors.”

“Who the hell is she?” I asked Flay.

“Admiral Naomi Misora,” Flay said. “She’s commands the Second Fleet. Or commanded, I don’t know.”

I had no idea how much that meant, but at least it gave me something to go on.

“Now, where’s your Prince Kira? I’m quite interested in meeting him,” Misora said.

Kira emerged from behind Mu La Flaga. “Yes?”

“Ah, excellent.” Misora floated over and shook Kira’s hand, leaving my brother looking completely embarrassed. “Pleased to meet you, Prince Kira. You sent out quite a moving rallying cry to both sides of the conflict. Considering what was about to happen to me, you picked a most opportune time to send it.”

“That . . . that wasn’t my intention,” Kira said.

I hadn’t even heard whatever Kira’s radio call actually was. If it already got eleven ships to head to us, though, it must have had some persuasive language, or perhaps some of the evidence of the injustices both sides were making. I made a mental note to listen to whatever Kira had broadcasted himself and see what exactly he said.

“Nonsense. It provided me and those loyal to me a perfect opportunity to get away,” Misora said. “The Earth Alliance is under the complete sway of Blue Cosmos, after all, and they’re beginning a purge.”

“Doesn’t surprise me,” Captain Gladys said. “They’ll want all of their ships in the hands of those ideologically aligned with them.”

“It’s more than that,” Misora said. “You see, I am a Coordinator.”

Everyone froze at that remark, and I think Gladys’ mouth actually fell open briefly. I don’t think anyone anticipated such a casual revelation of such magnitude, that an actual Earth Alliance admiral was a Coordinator.

“My loyalty is to my country, not to my genetics,” Misora said, eyeing Gladys and the other ex-ZAFT personnel on the bridge. “At the same time, Blue Cosmos will not tolerate a fleet or ship captained by a Coordinator no matter how much loyalty the Coordinator has to the Alliance. Any known Coordinators serving in the Alliance will be purged from the ranks with extreme prejudice, with all of the moderates to follow. They will lose a lot of their best soldiers and minds to this, but to Blue Cosmos, ideological and genetic purity matters above all else.”

She pointed at the map displayed in the center of the bridge. “My suggestion, thus, is to stay. There will be more ships coming, slowly but surely. L4 makes for a highly defensible rallying point for anyone who doesn’t want to follow the extremists.”

“You haven’t learned of some crucial information,” Badgiruel said evenly. It was clear she wasn’t appreciating the admiral’s attempts to subvert her authority just minutes after her arrival. “The Earth Alliance just got ahold of N-Jammer Cancellers. They will have nuclear weapons within months if not weeks.”

“Still leaves us some time to stay at L4,” Misora said. “Right now, until we get things settled, we shouldn’t try to launch any counteroffensives anyway. Especially as we’ll be dwarfed by the ZAFT and Earth Alliance fleets.”

“Yes, but you are also missing a crucial fact, Admiral Misora,” Badgiruel said. “Unless we go mobile soon, L4 is a sitting duck. Either ZAFT or the Earth Alliance will attack it eventually. We can’t consolidate for long. And eventually, once the Earth Alliance gets those nuclear weapons operational, we’ll be first on their list.”

Misora bit her lip. She wasn’t used to being questioned like this. Clearly she didn’t have an officer like Natarle Badgiruel in her ranks who would dare to question her decision-making.

“We’ll have to do one of two different strategies then,” Misora said. “One, we find some way to get L4 moving again, or two, go mobile as you said.”

“Or three,” Badgiruel snapped, “We decide who’s in command before we come up with a strategy. You’re not automatically in charge just because you were an admiral before you waltzed in here.”

I almost smiled. That was a sick burn by Badgiruel, although all it did was put a considerable amount of tension in the room.

“Right,” Misora said, smiling in a shaky, tense manner that strongly suggested she was holding in a rather infuriated temper. “Of course. That makes sense, Captain Badgiruel.”

“We don’t know how many people will be coming,” Kira said after a moment. “There’ll be people trying to bring their families with them. We’ll have to shelter them. I think either we disable the radio signal after a short while, or we try to gain control of L4 and steer it in a way that’ll make it inconvenient to blast out of existence.”

“It’ll be hard to do that without flying it into the debris belt,” a male ZAFT officer replied.

“Maybe that’s what we should do, hide in the debris belt after a while,” Misora said.

That started an officer’s row, and I just had enough and floated away.

Let them fight it out over rank and strategy. I didn’t much care.

The only use they would have for me is to go out in the Freedom and fight, and there wasn’t much the Freedom could do right now anyway.

I was a third wheel.
***
They had already begun repairing the Freedom in the L4 facilities, and there wasn’t anything I could do other than sit down on the frigid floor and watch.

I wasn’t much of a mechanic. All this time, I had relied on others to keep my GUNDAM operational, whether it was the Strike or the Freedom. Largely Kira, but also the Archangel personnel in general. If they weren’t so skilled with the upkeep, I wouldn’t be able to keep piloting my machines. But this was something far worse than what I had done to either the Strike or Freedom before, and I had brought the Strike back in questionable shape in particular.

What purpose did I have until the Freedom was operational again? Would I be allowed to fly it again once it was repaired? Would I fly anything ever again?

What else could I do but sit and watch while other people tried to fix my machine? Maybe I should head over there and actually learn how to repair my GUNDAM for once. At least then I’d be productive.

“Cagalli.” Athrun’s voice.

I turned to my right and there he was, standing only a few feet away from me.

Wow, my spatial awareness had gone completely to hell. I should have seen him coming from a mile off in this ginormous hangar.

“What do you want?” I asked.

“I just wanted to make sure you’re okay,” Athrun said.

“I’m alive, aren’t I? The Freedom’s in worse shape than I am.” I wasn’t in the mood to talk to him, and I was hoping he wouldn’t dare to sit down next to me.

Which, of course, is what he did. And threw his arm around my shoulders besides.

“I know why you did what you did,” Athrun said softly. “I’m not going to yell at you about that. I’m not sure what I would’ve done if I had to face Commander Le Creuset ranting and raving at me in L4.”

“So you heard,” I replied.

“Yeah. The word’s spreading that Le Creuset lost his mind and gave the N-Jammer Canceller right to the Earth Alliance. They’re wondering whether they should leak this back to PLANT or not,” Athrun replied.

“I wouldn’t do it,” I replied. “It just gives ZAFT more time to come up with something else as equally stupid as the Earth Alliance firing nuclear weapons everywhere.”

Athrun chuckled softly. “I wouldn’t doubt it.”

There was a weight behind his words. I realized he had to be thinking about his father. Patrick Zala did not have the look of a completely sane man when I had left him, and there was a good possibility he was getting worse, and there was nothing any of us could do about it.

I sure as hell wasn’t going to go back to ZAFT, and I hoped Athrun wasn’t going to try, even though I made him promise that he wouldn’t. I wasn’t sure how many more of these blows I could take.

“I think the only thing we can do is find some way to destroy the nuclear weapons before they’re fired at the PLANTs,” I said. “And then systematically destroy both fleets. There’s no way we can stop the war without killing them, Athrun.”

“Kira says he wants to try to find a peaceful solution,” Athrun said.

“Kira won’t find it. There’s no way to end it without another battle,” I replied. “Blue Cosmos and your father won’t hug it out, Athrun.”

Athrun looked at me with an almost sad expression. “What?” I asked.

“You were a lot more optimistic in the Academy,” Athrun said.

That was an almost laughable statement. “The war’s beaten out my optimism, Athrun. I have seen how monstrous people can be. You saw it for yourself when my P.O.W.s were crushed by that ZAFT Mobile Suit. These people are so insane they’ll kill their own side to slaughter defenseless foes just wanting to surrender.”

The memory of those soldiers getting blasted into pieces of charred flesh and then being mercilessly crushed under the GINN’s colossal foot, like they weren’t even worthy of the grave, has never been able to leave me, even as I write this. I could recall it back then like it had literally just happened, and it’s not the least bit foggy, now. I think it’s become like the defining moment in my attitude towards people and war. It shows what happens when people gaze into the fog of war for so long. You become lost in it, and soon you become a mere part of it, a demon lurking in some stygian tree, snatching up other lost souls.

Just thinking about it in the hangar, even though it had been a significant amount of time, made me feel as weak and impotent as I had when it initially happened. The only difference was that I wasn’t shutting down completely, and their screams and cries felt fainter, like echoes.

I felt Athrun’s arm wrap around me and I let him draw me in closer to him. I don’t know what was keeping me going at that point, after everything I had seen, after everything I had done, and after everyone I had lost.

Maybe I was just numb. Maybe Athrun was holding me together.

“It’s all right. None of it will happen again. We’ll stop it,” Athrun replied.

I had no words. I looked into his deep blue eyes and felt something seize up in my chest that was unique and powerful, and I was lost in its thrall. For some reason, I wanted to kiss him just because he was willing to try to comfort me.

And that’s what I did, right in the hangar.

It was the start of two big mistakes, two mistakes that will follow me around for the rest of my life.

My most beloved mistakes.
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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Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 76 9/24/15)

Post by The Green Flame » Sat Jan 23, 2016 10:03 am

Aw snap, new Alliance dudes! I hope they last longer than the last bunch!

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Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 76 9/24/15)

Post by Vent Noir » Mon Feb 01, 2016 4:58 am

Good to see this back!
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Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 76 9/24/15)

Post by rebel_cheese » Sun Mar 27, 2016 11:32 am

Happy Easter, everyone.
______________________________________________________________________________________

Chapter Seventy-Eight: Sweet Disposition

If L4 was going to be the place where we made our stand, the damn colony needed to stop falling into ruin, and also be defendable. Tall order, especially since there wasn’t just one colony. L4 stood for a whole cluster of them, Mendel, the colony where that laboratory was discovered, was just the tip of the iceberg.

Kira had rigged L4 to do more broadcasts, both to infer messages of peace, but also to warn the populaces on both sides about the extremes of their own governments. He got a few out until he was informed by a few latecomers that both PLANT and the Earth Alliance were successfully blocking L4’s transmissions, and there wasn’t much good we could do about it then, though it didn’t stop Kira from trying, and we got defectors anyway.

A lot of them, as predicted, were civilians. Mendel, sadly, was the most intact of L4, so they had to be settled there primarily while repairs of the other colonies began. I kept scanning the arrival reports, looking for my mom, dad, Stellar, and Elle, but none of them showed up.

They all had various skills. Doctors, teachers, construction workers (useful for getting the colonies put back together), etc. It was kind of amazing so many people, Coordinator and Natural, were looking just for a way out of the war and in a place where they would be safe. Talk began of forming some sort of basic government and economy. It was heady stuff.

As for me? I lived with Athrun on Mendel, as close to the port as we could, in the event we had to scramble. Well, Athrun had to scramble. There was no spare Mobile Suit for me considered to be worth risking my life in. I was clearly being saved for the Freedom when it was rebuilt.

It had been about two weeks since it was decided we would stay at L4 when it happened.

It was an ordinary day up until that point. I was denied access to the port where they were repairing Freedom by some new guards from one of the military vessels who came to us. “Hold on, you don’t have clearance!”

“I do have clearance, I’m the pilot of the Freedom!” I reached for it while the guards were laughing.

“Sure thing, boy,” the other guard added.

No matter where I went, or what I did, or how much time passed, some things never changed.

“I’m a girl, dumbass!”

I pulled out my identification. “Cagalli Yamato! Surely you’ve heard of the name?”

“Oh yeah!” one of the guards said. Then he put on a confused tone of voice. “Though I thought you were the pilot of the Strike.”

“That’s Mu La Flaga! I’ve switched machines!”

“Why would you have switched machines? Ain’t Freedom a ZAFT machine?”

I was literally burying my face in my palm by that point. “Long story.”

Really long story, though I am sure we’re all aware of that by this point.

Athrun, who had been watching the whole spectacle with a bemused smirk, finally intervened. “She is the pilot of the Freedom, I can confirm this, as I’m the pilot of the Justice.”

“The who?” one guard asked.

“The what?” the other asked.

“You have no idea what the Justice is?” Athrun asked, his face crestfallen.

“No idea. Who are you again?” the guard asked.

Athrun hung his head.

This is the problem with integrating a military out of mismatched personnel and ships from two different sides. The intentions are good, of course, but there are language barriers, communication problems, and not everyone is going to know the same information. It would take weeks, if not months, to get everyone on the same page. And we hadn’t even decided who was ultimately in charge, though poor Kira seemed to have been promoted to public figurehead if nothing else.

After doing my daily routine of assisting in the Freedom’s repairs however I could, I went back home and started scanning the newly arrived list for the names I so desperately wanted to see.

Only one military vessel had defected that day, it was from the Earth Alliance. The military vessels were becoming fewer and farther between; the traitors were rapidly being found in their ranks and getting purged before they could make a break for it. Odds are, it was going to end.

More surprising were the civilian vessels. I was amazed as many of them were coming as they were. Was there some secret Mass Driver being used I didn’t know about, or were they being shot up into space via a more old-fashioned method? If so, how long would it last? The majority of the civilians arriving were Coordinators from the PLANTs, which was unsurprising as they were the ones who could make a break for it easier, as they were already in space and so weren’t reliant on Mass Drivers. But how were the Earth civilians getting here? No one seemed to be willing to talk about it openly.

I was getting sick of spending hours scanning over the list every day, looking for the names. Caridad Yamato. Haruma Yamato. Stellar . . . what surname would she have? Presumably Yamato? Would that be true of Elle too, or would she still have the last name of Eliarez?

As always, my thoughts turned from such trivial ones to more existential ones?

Did they make it out of Orb? Were they living under Earth Alliance occupation? What had happened to Stellar if they didn’t make it out? Were they all dead? Was Stellar enslaved like she had once been?

I was slowly being driven insane by the idea that maybe I had lost them all. Without Kira, I’d have no family at all.

I wanted, more than anything, for them to be okay. It hurt more to not know.

After another fruitless scan, I threw the scanner across the room, where it bounced off the wall, off of Athrun’s bed, and onto the floor. The noise of it striking the wall brought Athrun into a room like a tennis ball summons a dog.

“Cagalli?” Athrun asked.

“I’m fine,” I said, as I stared at the scanner on the floor. Amazingly, it was still functioning, although beeping weirdly, so I likely had damaged it in some way.

Athrun looked over at the scanner. “You’re not fine if you’re throwing stuff across the room.”

“Bite me,” I growled, but instead of giving me space, Athrun took it as a cue he needed to get closer and sit down beside me on the bed.

I loved and hated him for it.

“I . . . I keep looking for them, and they’re not coming,” I said.

“They’ll turn up,” Athrun replied.

“Alive or dead?” I asked.

“Alive. The Prime Minister had issued a full-scale evacuation of Onogoro. I’m sure they got out. I don’t know if they can get into space, but they escaped Onogoro,” Athrun said, with what seemed like absolute sincerity.

“How do you know this?” I asked as I looked into his green eyes.

“Because I do,” Athrun said.

“That’s not good enough, Athrun!” I said. “It’s been over two weeks since we left Onogoro and there’s no sign of them, on the arrival list or anywhere else!”

“Cagalli,” Athrun said softly. “You can’t give up hope. They’re not confirmed dead, right?”

“No,” I said after a moment to think it over.

“Then you can’t give up hope. They could show up tomorrow, or they can’t leave at all and you’ll have to track them down on Earth after the war’s over. Or somewhere in-between. You have to think about it that way, or you’ll go insane,” Athrun said.

He was right. I knew he was right, that the only rational thing was to not give up hope and not let my worrying consume me. But there just wasn’t enough to do, ironically. We were in the oft-forgotten part of war where it is incessant boredom, before the bursts of terror that are far more infamous. I couldn’t keep myself occupied enough to not think about it.

“Please don’t die on me too,” I managed.

“I’m not,” Athrun said. “And they haven’t died on you either.”

I looked into his green eyes again, and I felt something hot and longing rising in me, something that I can’t quite explain, but couldn’t muster the strength to resist.

“Cagalli, what’s wrong?” Athrun asked, his eyes lit with concern.

I grabbed him by the shirt collar and brought him towards me, and I kissed him.

I placed my other hand onto his smooth, hard chest and fumbled for his buttons.

This was different from the other times we made out. I knew it was, right from the outset. It was like I was in total sensory overload, a passenger for the ride. I had a faint idea of what was happening, but it didn’t seem quite real to me, like it was through a haze. The feelings consuming me felt like lava and there was nothing more I wanted than Athrun, closer and closer to me . . . until . . .

We both rested on the bed next to each other, both staring up at the ceiling, into space.

“What did we just do?” Athrun asked.

“I don’t know,” I replied.

This is what they mean by ‘the heat of the moment’. Where you lose your rationality, and ride a wave of warm feelings until you wind up somewhere much different when you come to your senses. And it slowly dawns on you what you did. And then your heart races all over again because when it hits you, a different type of feeling consumes you.

Fear.

“Oh God,” I finally said. “What did we do, Athrun?”

“I . . .” I knew Athrun was looking away from me, he was wondering about the consequences too.

I looked over at him, and he was indeed looking away, staring at the wall.

I wanted to hit him, shake him, and scream at him. We should have stopped. Why didn’t we stop? But before I could yell anything at him, a horrible truth occurred to me. I was the one who kissed him and dragged him into this situation to begin with! Yeah, he didn’t stop, but I was the one who started it and I didn’t tell him to stop either!

The anger faded, and instead tears came to my eyes. I reached my right hand over and stroked his sweating blue hair, which was yet another uncomfortable indication of what we did.

“I’m sorry. It’s my fault,” I said softly. “My fault, Athrun.”

He didn’t say a word, but one of his hands reached up and gripped it softly.

“Cagalli, what if . . .” He couldn’t bring himself to say it. And I could barely bring myself to contemplate it.

“We’ll worry about it in a couple of weeks. Just . . . we can’t let this happen, ever again,” I said.

“Yeah. We can’t,” Athrun said softly.

At least he wasn’t going to walk away. He wasn’t going to be a coward and walk away. That meant more than anything else at that moment.

I just hoped that meant he wouldn’t do something just as stupid:

Die for my sake.
***
The next couple of weeks were predictably awkward. Neither of us could look at each other in the eye. I think we were both regretting sharing the same slightly worn-down building, because of what happened. We just jumped from first base all the way to . . . I’m still not comfortable going over the details, even as I write this down.

I had started writing more stuff down since settling in during the lull, trying to remember as much as I could. It didn’t help my anxiety, but it did keep me from becoming obsessive over what Athrun and I had done, and also over the fate of my family. I would spend hours writing everything I could remember, and I wasn’t sure who I was writing for. Was I writing in the hopes of turning it into a book? Was I writing for others? Was I writing simply for myself? I wasn’t sure.

Maybe it was just because, after everything that happened to me, I needed to write it all down to put it into perspective. I had seen both sides of the war, and the injustices that were happening on all levels. And yet, despite it all, I had managed to make it this far, and so had Athrun, and so had most of my friends.

Yet, I could not escape the dread in the back in my mind that was festering. I had no doubt that not everyone was going to get it through the final battle, whenever it was waged. Whether it was Flay and her odd determination to protect me that got her killed, or someone finally got in a kill shot against the Archangel . . . people were going to die, and I knew it. My past vows to protect everyone felt foolish, naïve, childish.

In a way, I was glad that Stellar’s abilities had only lingered in me for a few days. I could not imagine how I would’ve taken everything I had seen and experienced while still having the extrasensory perception Stellar did. Perhaps that would have finally driven me insane, I don’t know.

I’ll probably never know.

The arrival list was getting smaller and smaller each passing day, and every few hours I found myself reflexively grabbing my stomach, as if checking for any signs, as impossible as they would be this early, that there was something in there. It was a stressful, terrifying existence with a lot of disappointment and crying.

Athrun would hug me and tell me everything’s okay, but after what we had done before, I didn’t want to let him in too close, before I would lose control to my desires again. I couldn’t take another risk.

But then one day . . .

The arrival list was frighteningly small by that point, only a couple hundred names. Just two ships, both civilian. But then I saw the first name on the list.

Caridad Yamato.

My heart skipped multiple beats as I stared at the name for a good few minutes. Then my eyes finally looked down as my vision blurred and cleared as I blinked tears out of my eyes.

Haruma Yamato.

Stellar Yamato.

Elle Yamato.

I clutched my chest as my heart slammed into it. Every emotion imaginable, and probably some beyond the scope of human thought, surged through me in that moment.

I covered my mouth to keep any sobbing sounds escaping my mouth, even though no one was around to hear it. I looked up and down through those four names time and time again, as if just seeing them was a figment of my imagination. But the names stayed, proving I wasn’t suddenly falling prey to delusions.

After a few minutes of staring and crying, it occurred to me to run to them.

And that’s what I did.

It didn’t occur to me to try to drive there, or ride a bike. I just ran.

It’s one of those things that suddenly you turn into a marathon sprinter over. Everything, including your own human endurance and limitations, suddenly don’t mean a whole lot. You just forget about them, because the drive to get there is so strong.

It was only when I finally made it to the spaceport that it suddenly hit me I had sprinted from my lodgings all the way to the port without stopping or even having a glass of water.

You’ve probably seen pictures or video of marathon runners collapsing at the end out of sheer exhaustion. Yeah, that’s what I did. Fell right on my hands and knees, leaning against the wall, gasping for air, and suddenly feeling like I had no water left in my body, I had sweated all of it out.

And a dehydration headache on top of that.

I forced myself to stand back up, even though I was dizzy and my knees were trembling like all of the strength in them had vanished.

It didn’t matter how exhausted I was. It really didn’t, not at that point. I had to make it to them, no matter what.

So despite sweating enough that I felt I was going to melt externally and dry up internally, I pushed on into the port, hoping I would see them.

That’s when I saw them.

I saw Mom first in the crowd of refugees. That was all I needed to see.

Mom!” I shouted, even though shouting that seemed to rob me of any energy I had left.

Mom spun towards me the moment she heard my voice. “Cagalli?”

The moment I saw Mom’s green eyes peer into my own, I suddenly felt all of the struggling, all of the suffering I had dealt with since leaving Orb, it had all been worth it.

The sad thing was that I was not able to see them at our Onogoro home. But even so . . .

“Mom!” I charged forward through the crowd and with the last bit of strength I had, thrust myself into her arms.

“Mom! Mom!” I sobbed into her chest as my legs finally gave out, forcing Mom to kneel in order to keep supporting me. I felt her arms wrap around me tightly, but with just enough trembling to show that the moment was starting to affect Mom as well.

“Oh God, Cagalli,” Mom managed as she held me. Her hand reached up from my back and brushed the tips of my hair.

“I’m sorry,” I blubbered. “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! Mom!”

“It’s okay. It’s okay.” I felt her lips kiss me on the top of my head, and all of a sudden, it felt like a gigantic weight had been taken off of my shoulders.

What is it about parents that make everything feel like it’s somehow going to work out?

I looked up from Mom’s chest to see Dad standing nearby as well, as well as Stellar and Elle, both staring at me like they had seen a ghost.

Despite my tears, despite my exhaustion, I could feel the wide, joyful smile on my face. They were okay. They were all okay. All of them.

“Hi, everyone,” I said.

The group embrace that followed was probably something out of cheesy family dramas, but I didn’t care.

Just knowing they were all here, that they had all made it . . .

It finally gave me a bit of hope, that maybe, just maybe . . .

We were just going to make it.
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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The Green Flame
Creepy Bishonen
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Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 78 3/27/16)

Post by The Green Flame » Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:37 pm

And a happy easter you too! Glad to see you're back!

rebel_cheese
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Posts: 305
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Re: Gundam SEED: Bloodlines (Chapter 78 3/27/16)

Post by rebel_cheese » Mon Mar 28, 2016 1:39 am

The Green Flame wrote:And a happy easter you too! Glad to see you're back!
Thanks! I hope you had a good Easter too!

I'm trying to get myself motivated to finish this. We're so close to the end.
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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