Gundam SEED Fan Fiction ❯ Operation Strikeback ❯ A Soulful Sacrifice ( Chapter 19 )

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Final Chapter- A Soulful Sacrifice
“Warning!... ... Warning!... ... Warning!... ... System Assimilation!... ...” the computer continuously displayed.
“What the?... My controls won't respond!” Kira said.
“Whatever this is, It's taking control of our Mobile Suits!” Athrun spoke in anxiety.
As Athrun and Kira fought to regain control of the Justice and Freedom, the virtual surroundings began to twist and contort. It seemed to wrap around their Mobile Suits and in a sudden flash, both of them were warped off to another place. To both Kira and Athrun, thinking they were thrown into oblivion, remained calm as they watched were the warp was taking them to. Finally emerging from the hollows of the warp, what loomed ahead was a giant sphere, many times their size and shielded by triangular platings of gray. Surrounding them in the environment were vast fields of data and figures. They noticed they were in a zero-gravity freefall condition. Athrun assumed they were taken to Tangram's environment.
The sphere began to vibrate, and from one corner of the sphere a large fragment of the plating blew off and the exposed patch turned towards facing them. Kira and Athrun felt a sense of hostility but instead to their surprise, an “eye” appeared to greet them.
“Greetings...” it said with a menacing hiss, “I am Tangram... Creator of this Virtual World... and you two! Have posed enough threat to my plans by opposing me! And that useless traitor Ajim... has been disposed off ... I cannot allow you to live any longer. I shall erase you personally and you shall join the piles of trash data! Tangram angrily spoke. With that being said, three arms violently thrashed out of Tangram's armor shell, giving a menacing sort of “death glare” to the Freedom and Justice.
“Kira! We made it this far... It's now or never!!!” Athrun shouted.
“I'm right behind you Athrun!” Kira replied.
Drawing themselves toward the battle zone, they split up and flanked Tangram, releasing wave after wave of lasers at the shell. Tangram wasted no time as well, recovering the armor which it blew off to reveal its “eye”, using its arms to attack both the machines. Firing ring-shaped lasers and the explosive orbs that Specineff used, Kira and Athrun were forced to constantly move to avoid damage from the orbs, making the focus for attacking difficult. Kira found an opportunity to bring out his laser cannons, and launching a full wave at the arm. However the lasers did no damage to the arms or the armor shell.
“What!” Kira said in shock, as another of the orbs chased him again.
“This is strange... Tangram doesn't seem to be taking any sort of damage... just like Bradtos” Athrun knew what Kira was thinking.
Avoiding attacks for almost a minute, the situation began to change. Like the previous time, Tangram blew open a part of its armor and faced its “eye” towards Athrun. He sensed the danger, and immediately evaded the dozens of lasers the “eye” suddenly fired at him. Kira on the other hand, continued to fend off against the arms' attacks and draw them away from Athrun. As the laser attack from Tangram stopped abruptly, Athrun fired a few shorts into the section of the eye. He noticed a change in the area where the lasers struck and finally realised something. Before he could convey his message to Kira, the “eye” changed from a crimson red to azure blue color, deploying a massive laser beam similar to Raiden's. Athrun stared at it as he saw the beam coming and dashed away from it as Tangram swung the beam towards him, barely missing him.
“Gahhh!... that was too close! Kira! You read me!? I know Tangram's weak spot! But I'll need you to continue distracting those arms of his.” Athrun said quickly.
“Roger Athrun! I'll keep you covered!” Kira replied firmly with confidence.
But after saying that, Tangram covered itself up again and continued using its arms to attack. For now, Athrun went to assist Kira, shielding each other from the attacks.
“Athrun, I've got another plan. But this will be a twin effort.”
“I'm listening.”
Waiting for the opportunity to come, Tangram's “eye” finally emerged from the shell again. To Tangram's surprise, a swift Justice Gundam went up close and slashed the “eye” with its twin beam lance. Although it took damage and remained still, the Justice flew off and the Freedom's Xiphias and Igelsterns launched a full assault from a distance, striking on full impact at the eye. Still taking the opportunity to strike while the “eye” began firing lasers, they avoided the shots easily while keeping focus on the “eye”. Changing to the blue color again, Kira prepared to evade the beam, but behind him came an orb, exploding on contact and throwing the Freedom off balance. The “eye” aimed at the Freedom before it recovered and launched the deadly beam once again. Kira remained motionless as he gasped in fear at the sight of the beam coming close.
In a moment of rising emotions and bravery, the Justice Gundam forcefully pushed the Freedom Gundam away and took full brunt of the laser's power.
“ATHRUN!!!”, Kira watched in horror and shock as the shadow of the Justice was engulfed into the beam, armor bits began chipping off the Justice Gundam and the Phase-Shift rendered useless against the beams' might. Body parts beginning to tear away under the brutal force; the rifle and shield destroyed upon contact with the beam. The beam began to subside and all was left was the broken head and torso of the Justice Gundam. Although visibly shattered into nothingness, Athrun was fortunately saved somehow. But he was now unconscious and unable to do anything. Kira shed a tear and his body seemed to tremble and sweat under the shock. Athrun did not respond to Kira's calls, making the reality of Athrun dead very true.
“ Athrun... ATHRUN!!!” Kira roared beyond his very own anger filled with intense fear yet hatred for the giant monstrosity that hurt Athrun, his one and only true friend. Kira felt his mind slipping unconsciously; his mind and consciousness began to fade out suddenly. His eyes, became soulless and blank, the “seed” in him began to bloom.
Again closing the eye after the laser onslaught, Tangram turned its arms towards the Freedom Gundam and attempted to capture the motionless machine. Just before the arms came within reach, Kira let loose the cannon's power at point blank range. Blasting the arms off violently before they caught him. In a fit of anger, drawing the saber instead, Kira fought of the arms that were beginning to lash out at him, wanting to destroy them. An arm from the side thrashed into the Freedom Gundam and sent it flying off. Recovering almost immediately, using its agility and speed, the Freedom avoided a wave of ring lasers and orbs and struck against one of the arms. An electrical flux began to develop at the hit point and the arm was destroyed, changing into a mass of data and fading away into the surroundings. The other two arms came rushing for Kira but he already saw them coming. Blasting away one arm with the cannons, the Freedom clutched the other arm with its legs, riding on its length while plunging the beam saber deep through the connecting section of the arm. Quickly grabbing the saber and then blasting off, Kira went for the last one. Charging the saber to full strength, Kira threw the saber with lightning speed and pierced the core of the arm. The arm exploded instantly and finally collapsed into a mass of data. Kira then went for the exposed “eye” and slashed twice with both sabers, and pierced them right into the center. Tangram growled in agony unleashed its own fury once again. Taking no chances, it blasted off the sabers and let loose numerous beams at one go determined to strike down the Freedom Gundam.
Having no way to escape, the Freedom attempted to defend itself against the massive wave of lasers. The second wave onwards of lasers then began to focus on the Freedom itself, striking it down heavily. Kira was finally thrown out of his sub-conscious state and back into reality. Feeling dazed and uneasy, the “eye” was still staring at him, as it began to change to its blue color again. Kira was becoming unconscious due to over-exertion and was sweating very profusely. He was about to meet his fate, when he noticed a crystalline figure in front of him. Tangram's eye reverted to red as it looked at the crystalline figure attempting to defend the Freedom Gundam.
“Ajim!!! What do you think you're doing!” Tangram spoke.
“Tangram!... I could have... destroyed you long ago even... with my own power... You created me... You gave me... a power... so unimaginable, you were... afraid... I would turn against you... You used me for the wrong reasons... **Gah!** “ Ajim continued to speak as it clutched its own damaged body. “I now know... who is right... who is wrong... with this power... I... shall make you regret, you ever created me!”
Having said his part, Ajim ejected four warm-glowing spheres from his hand. A sphere slowly approached the Freedom Gundam and seemed to fuse into the machine. Kira realised, that the Freedom began powering itself up rapidly. The other three shone brightly and suddenly three other Mobile Suits, the Duel, M-1 and the Justice, were brought back to full form. Ajim then turned towards Kira.
“Hey... hey... we're alive?” Yzak and Cagalli said curiously.
“Take your friends out of here!... This place... the 9th Power Plant... is like a massive energy plant waiting to explode... and is Tangram's primary source of power... I have to destroy this place... You will vanish... along with this world... if you don't hurry...” Ajim pointed to a space near them and a warp hole was already forming up; their one and only way out of the virtual world.
“But you'll destroy yourself!” Kira argued back.
“If I let Tangram live... he'll someday... destroy the world again... And if I don't, he'll destroy me all the same... Better I eradicate this cursed world... than let Tangram spawn more killer Virtuaroids...”
“Kira!... He's made up his mind... it is a noble sacrifice after all...” Athrun said sadly.
“Insolent fools! You won't leave here alive! Neither will I let you destroy me! The creator of this Virtual World!” Tangram boomed out in anger, and fired lasers at the Mobile Suits and the renegade Virtuaroid, Ajim. Ajim created a hole that absorbed all of Tangram's lasers, and it made Tangram even angrier.
“Leave here! Now!” Ajim pleaded.
“Why you!” Tangram boomed again.
Recalling the hole he created, Ajim drew his power and rushed towards Tangram. Turning its “eye” blue again, Tangram released the massive beam of energy towards Ajim. But the beam was easily deflected off and discharged by an energy barrier around Ajim.
“What!” Tangram said in surprise.
Ajim transformed into a red shell and a blue aura around it ensued while charging into Tangram, disappearing within its armor.
“Tangram... I, CVT-001 Ajim… will repay you... the power you loan me!”
Kira and the others watched as Tangram's shell began to glow bluish-white, beams of light piercing through the armor shell. An energy sphere engulfed Tangram and surging bolts rampaged throughout the sphere like wildfire. Dazzled by the display of bright lights, Kira and the rest continued to watch in awe. Tangram's “eye” began to twitch and turn as if fighting some kind of pain. After seconds, the light and energy sphere receded into Tangram's shell and exploded with great fury. Armor plates began to shatter off Tangram's shell as it vibrated violently, about to explode. The data masses around them began to fade and disintegrate. The virtual world was about to collapse.
“This is bad! We've got to get out of here!” Cagalli yelled to them.
Disappearing one after another into the warp hole, it finally closed behind them. Tangram already exploding slowly, said to itself, “This isn't the end yet!... I'll return!” With that, the crumbling virtual world was engulfed in a blue light and everything else within faded away to into nothingness...
As they emerged into the real world, the four Mobile Suits slowly descended upon Earth. Just outside where the Archangel was docked. Landing one after another, the pilots ejected from their cockpits and touched ground. Soon after, they were greeted by the whole Archangel crew, expressing concern over their sudden “disappearing act”.
“So... what happened? Where did you guys go?... Everything was quiet out there suddenly and then you guys haven't returned for about hours since?” La Fllaga asked smiling.
“Let's just say, our troubles are over… forever.” said Kira.
“Huh?...” La Fllaga said in confusion.
Athrun turned to Cagalli and walked towards her, grasping her hand gently. Shocked, Cagalli blushed a little and Athrun raised her fingers. Grabbing the ring that he hid in his suit, he gently slipped on the ring into her finger.
“Athrun...” Cagalli whispered with a warm smile.
Cagalli did likewise with her other ring into Athrun's. Following that, Athrun raised her body and kissed her passionately. Emotions flowed for a moment, as the people around them cheered them on.
“I wished... Dearka... and Nicol could see this...” as Yzak silently teared, retaining that stoned expression of his.
Lacus came from behind Kira and clutched his arm tightly. Smiling, she said, “I believe... we would be the next now... right Kira?” All he did was gently nod his head, as he always does.
The members of the Archangel crew were about to return on board for a course of celebration, when a strange crystalline shower began to light up the sky. It seemed almost like a meteor shower, but the objects blazing through the sky glittered brightly and burned a blue flame instead. Kira, Cagalli, Yzak and Athrun knew it was a final gift... from Ajim.
The war... was finally over...
Footnote: Well, thanks for being a reader of my fanfic, and I do hope once again, you would review this story of mine. Cheerios people. Until next time. I'll be writing Macross VF-X2 soon, that would be under the Macross section.