Mobile Suit Gundam Fan Fiction / Gundam Wing Fan Fiction / Gundam SEED Fan Fiction ❯ Mobile Suit Gundam GGeneration: Dreams ❯ Chapter 4: Every Little Thing ( Chapter 4 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Chapter 4: Every Little Thing
In the vastness of space, one single flame of life can seem so minute. But no matter how small that flame is, if it is extinguished, there can be no way to rekindle it.
7 mobile suits waltzed like dancers in open space. Their verniers pumping out super heated exhaust, leaving a trail of blue behind them. A casual observer could say that battles in outer space were elegant, even beautiful; but that would be the opinion of the casual observer, not the person who was fighting for their lives.
Tano Hagane and his wingman Orphen Enohpiris were expert Gaplant pilots. They have been in the academy in California together and were lucky enough to be assigned to the same team aboard the Alexandria-Class battleship, Severn. The Gaplant units they piloted were designed with the expectation that it would outperform every single mobile suit in speed and agility. Because of that, the pilots would have to endure high levels of G-Forces. So the only way for the pilot to endure was through cybernetic and genetic enhancements.
When the cadets at California was asked whether they would like to pilot the Gaplants under the condition that they underwent the treatments both Tano and Orphen were the first ones to sign up. Both of them didn't know that with the treatment came a price. After the operation, all they remembered was their time as cadets and nothing else. But it didn't really bother them.
Now the two were having the time of their lives going up against Duel Gundam and Buster Gundam.
“Hey Tano, check out the grey guy!” Orphen said to his teammate while taking pot shots at the Duel Gundam. He expected something more from a Gundam, but if life gives you lemons, throw them at someone.
“Its like he's not trying! Heh, the damn mutant's pathetic.”
“Yeah, well this guy's getting on my nerves. Let's swap.” Tano's Gaplant, in MA mode, barely dodged past a shot from the Buster's high-energy rifle. He knew that if he can get in close in MA mode, the fight would be his. Tano was never good at tackling artillery targets.
“Yeah, I'm game.” Both suits transformed into mobile suit mode, hi-fived each other like wrestlers coming into the ring and set about giving their new targets hell.
Riou Hajima, the Duel Gundam's pilot, had no idea that the suit he stole was so basic. Armed with only a shield, a beam rifle and a pair of beam sabres the only thing that set it apart from a GINN was its phase shift; but even so, it wasn't going to be any good against a beam totting Gaplant.
But he wasn't going to let that little detail keep him from proving he was the best. The tried to gracefully roll over the oncoming beams from Tano's Gaplant, but instead it clumsily moved from side to side providing Tano with a very easy target. Riou was getting annoyed at the poor long-range performance of the Duel.
Great, I graduate top of my class at the academy and this is what they give me. I should have listened to my parents and became a teacher.
Noticing that the Gaplant attacking him was now attacking Akito's Buster Gundam, Riou thought it would make his life easier. Instead, it just got a lot worse.
While the Buster and Duel was struggling with the Titan mobile suits, Marcus' Aile Strike Gundam was being double teamed by the other two former Titan Gundams, Aegis and Blitz. Both mobile suits charged and dived at the Strike Gundam with all guns blazing.
Though it seemed the Strike Gundam was having a difficult time, the reality was that Marcus wasn't attacking them. While trying to defend himself, he was also trying to contact Ryan.
“RYAN! SAY SOMETHING!” Marcus shouted again through the international channel while dodging a flurry of beams from the Blitz. He hoped for a response, but somewhere in his mind he didn't expect Ryan to reply.
Looking up at the Aegis, he saw its body twist and transform into its mobile armour mode. When Marcus realised that the hole in the centre of the claw like fighter head was the Scylla Cannon he didn't react fast enough. The blue and red beam flew forth from the opening of the Aegis and struck the Aile Strike's right arm, partially melting it and destroying the beam rifle.
"Why are you fighting with ZAFT!”
"Why are you fighting with the Titans?" Was the answer.
Marcus tried to answer, but he had other problems. The pilot of the Blitz saw an opening, charged straight at the Aile Strike and slashed its beam sabre at it.
On reflex, Marcus spun the mobile suit around and blocked the attack with the shield mounted on the left arm. The damaged right arm sparked at the joints as the Strike drew its beam sabre from the Aile pack on its back and swung it downwards, making the Blitz back off and give Marcus some breathing space.
Marcus thought the Blitz backed off because of him, but he didn't see the Aegis Gundam's Scylla Cannon fire another shot at him and it was too late for him to dodge it. He closed his eyes and prepared for the impact.
When Marcus opened his eyes, the image of the Red Frame Astray's verniers filled the cockpit screen. The tiny screen above him flickered on and Kriss' face appeared.
“We're even, Marcus” Kriss didn't look at him. She was somewhat bewildered as to why she's save some Titan. But at least she paid back her debt. Kriss managed to convince Captain Blanc to let her sortie and help them. She didn't like owing people favours, especially if they are dead.
Her suit's shield smoked from the beam's impact, but it was intact. Both the Red Frame and Strike flew off in different directions, now the odds are even.
The Alexandria-Class battleship was one of the new models of ships built by the Titans to counter the ZAFT threat in space. Heavily armed with four main guns and multiple secondary guns coupled with the ability to carry around 10 mobile suits, it was a mobile fortress. The ZAFT Nazca cruiser they were pursuing wouldn't stand a chance in a firefight with an Alexandria-Class.
Captain Maurice Blanc, commander of the Alexandria-Class ship Severn, knew if they got closer, the battle would be theirs. But the Nazca cruiser was faster than the Severn and a head start meant that there was no way the Severn was going to catch them at this rate.
There was a low din of chatter amongst the bridge crew as they relayed orders and instructions to the rest of the ship. Maurice Blanc knew there wasn't much he could do until they caught up with the Nazca, so he sat back and watched his pilots' mobile suits on the imaging radar.
The dots on the radar showed him that the Severn was several hundred kilometres behind the Nazca and the mobile suits were duelling halfway between them. His eyes moved between the main monitor and the radar, thinking whether his pilots could handle the prototype mobile suits. The Phase Shift Armour on the Gundams would be difficult to beat, but he trusted that Tano, Orphen, Marcus would try their best.
He had doubts about sending the Orbian, Kriss Sampson, out to battle. But Maurice felt that she was a capable pilot and would be able to handle herself out there. Plus they need every pilot they have to take down the Gundams.
When his eyes shifted back to the imaging radar again, the clear space ahead of them was suddenly filled with debris.
“The hell? Helm, what's our position and heading?”
“We're in grid 293, 22. Heading is 98 Blue 67. Elevation 20, sir.” The crewmen at the front of the bridge answered.
“Looks like fate has brought us back…” Maurice muttered.
“Excuse me, sir?”
“Never mind. Launch the recovery flares. Bring our suits back.”
Riou tried to hit Tano's Gaplant, in MA mode, using his beam rifle, but the agile fighter just weaved in and out of the pillars of beam energy and rushed at him. The Duel's armour screamed as Riou's reaction superseded the limits of the mobile suit.
“Damn piece of !” The Gaplant transformed right before the Duel. The monoeye camera in its pointed head glowing menacingly and Tano pointed the beam cannon mounted in the Gaplant's arms at the Duel's cockpit. Time slowed for Riou. He watched blobs of light gather inside the barrel of the beam cannon. Riou looked in the giant monoeyes of the Gaplant; he felt the Titan pilot was mocking him. How could he lose to a inferior Natural pilot?
Tano's Gaplant suddenly lurched sideways when the feet of the Buster Gundam connected its head. Joining his comrade, Akito's voice crackled through the Riou's headset.
“You owe me one Riou.” In the distance, recovery flares illuminated the darkness around both the ZAFT and Titan ships.
The Buster Gundam joined its high-energy rifle and gun launcher together. A brilliant yellow light shot directly at Tano's Gaplant; the beam missed by a mile but it forced Tano to take off in the opposite direction. The barrage of missiles that followed stopped Orphen's Gaplant in its tracks and blocked his view of the two Gundams. Both ZAFT pilots used the opening to make a quick exit.
“Dammit. If those engineers had more time they'd installed the Assault Shroud. And stop laughing Akito, this isn't funny.” His friend was chuckling through the communications channel, “I'll get my revenge…no one makes fun of me.”
Akito was used to that kind of attitude from his long time friend and it was no surprise to hear Riou say he wants revenge. Akito understood why Riou had a bad temper. If it wasn't for the war, Riou would have become a teacher; but now he's a bitter pilot who blamed everything which went wrong in his life when he joined the ZAFT military on the Earthanoids, or those who lived on Earth. He had every right to do so.
Both sets of mobile suits began travelling back to their respective mother ships, leaving their death-match unfinished.
After seeing the recovery flares, the Aegis and Blitz Gundams broke off their attacks and began retreating to the Versailles.
Kriss turned her Red Frame to head back to the Severn, but the Aile Strike Gundam just sped past her in the opposite direction.
“Hey! Where are you going?”
Marcus didn't answer. His mind was too preoccupied. No matter how hard he tried, the Aegis Gundam always seemed too far ahead.
The pilot of the Blitz Gundam, Vivian Oria, saw the approaching Gundam opened a communication channel to Ryan in the Aegis.
“Ryan, you want me to deal with the annoying kid?”
“He's the same age as us you know.” Ryan answered. His voice sounded distant, “You go on ahead. I'll deal with him.”
The Aegis Gundam turned around and left the Blitz to retreat back alone.
The image of Strike Gundam grew larger and larger in the main monitor inside Aegis' cockpit. It was so long since Ryan saw Marcus but why did it have to be in these circumstances? He raised the Aegis' beam rifle and pulled a shot to the Aile Strike's left.
“Marcus, stop.”
Hearing his old friend's voice made Marcus' heart leapt, but he knew that Ryan was with ZAFT and heeded the warning.
Both Gundam floated in space, several hundred meters away from each other. The mobile suits were personifications of the pilots: armoured warriors on the battlefield, armed with weapons designed to indiscriminately kill the enemy and to keep the wielder alive. In this instant, they looked like nothing more than normal humans.
On board both suits, a video link joined the pilots together. They stared at each other for what seemed like forever.
“Ryan.” Marcus' voice was barely audible.
“Marcus, stop trying to talk to me.”
That comment made Marcus' heart sink to the bottom of his stomach. The shock bewildered him. Nine years they have known each other and were best friends since they were babies. Seven years they have been apart. You wouldn't think that the changing world would change people so quickly, but it does.
“We are still friends Marcus. But we have jobs to do. I don't know why a Coordinator like you would join the Titans, but I'm sure you have your reasons. I want to keep our friendship alive, but our duties come before that. Please, next time we meet on the battlefield I want you to give me your all.” There was a tone sorrow in Ryan's voice as the Aegis Gundam turned and boosted away.
Marcus was still stunned from the encounter when the battleship Severn came into view. It took a while for Kriss to wake Marcus up from his daze and return to the ship. The reality of war just settled inside his mind and it was taking its toll.
The shoal zone ahead became more visible as both ships approached it. If Marcus had not been in his state, he would have known that they were approaching the remains of Jenius 7.
“So how is he?” Captain Maurice Blanc stood in the corner of the Severn's sickbay with the ship's doctor.
“Marcus is physically and mentally fine. I'm giving him a clean bill of health. Also to Miss Sampson too.” The seated Australian accented doctor answered. He twisted around on his chair to youngster on the bed, “You're both free to go, unless there's something you two want to ask me.”
“There is something.” Buttoning up his uniform, he stood up and walked over to the captain and the doctor, “I heard the voices of one of the ZAFT pilots during the battle on Heliopolis. At first I thought it was rouge comm. traffic, but I realised that the radio on the Strike Gundam wasn't configured to receive anything but Titan frequencies. So can I be…”
“A Newtype?” The doctor finished off Marcus' sentence. It was rare to be a Newtype. Statistics showed that there would be one person with Newtype potential in every half a million, so having meeting one in battle would be extremely rare. Kriss sat on the other bed. She was worried about Marcus. Though they have only met, she felt some kind of attraction towards him, an urge to be near him.
“No. You are a Coordinator.” Kriss gasped just loud enough to turn their heads towards her.
“Oh, I thought you knew. I'm sorry.” The doctor apologised to Kriss and turned back to Marcus, “The genetic manipulation done on your genes before you were born corrupted the natural process of evolution. Newtypes abilities are developed through the genes passed down by your parents. But,” He sighed slightly, “You people on the colonies had to mess with Mother Nature. What you heard was probably some international channel or just a simple hallucination.”
Marcus wasn't convinced, but he knew that he couldn't be a Newtype. He saluted the doctor and the captain and walked out of the sickbay with Kriss following close behind him.
As soon as the doors closed behind them, Kriss ran ahead of him and blocked his way.
“What the hell are you doing with the Titans?” Though it was just a question, the look on her face told Marcus that she wasn't going to move unless he gives her an answer.
“Because ZAFT killed my parents.”
Kriss didn't expect that for as an answer.
“I said my parents were killed by ZAFT in cold blood. I'm fighting with the Titans to get revenge.”
“But they're your own people! Why?” Kriss just couldn't get the idea around her head that a Coordinator would fight against his own kind. Marcus didn't answer.
Kriss was about to ask again but two large built Titan officers walked up behind Marcus. It was Tano and Orphen.
“Why is it that every time we let you go out by yourself we find that you'll bring back a girl?” Orphen put his hand in Marcus' red hair and ruffled it up.
“A beautiful one too.” Kriss blushed at the comment and looked down in embarrassment. Tano was up to his old flirting tricks again.
“Don't be shy, young lady.” He raised Kriss' had and kissed it, “A girl with your looks shouldn't be afraid of what others say. Oh, my name is Tano Hagane. These are my two colleagues, Orphen Enohpiris and Marcus Kolin, which you undoubtedly already met. So that's us introduced, what's your name?”
“Kriss, Kriss Sampson.” She managed to squeak out.
“Sampson, Sampson…hm…are you by any chance the daughter of the president of Orb?” Orphen enquired. A nod was all they got.
“Oh Marcus!” Tano yelled out happily, “You always find girls who are just beyond my grasp. You should share your spoils with your friends sometime. Just because you're a Coordinator doesn't mean you should always get the girl.”
Marcus just stayed quiet, his face was pink but it was barely noticeable.
“So you two know he's a Coordinator?” Kriss said back in surprise.
“Yeah, `course. Who doesn't?”
“But I thought you Titans hated Coordinators.”
“We do. But Marcus here is special. You like being special don't you?” Tano was treating Marcus like a kid. But to Kriss it sounded like Tano was treating Marcus like little brother but she also detected mockery.
“As long as he's fighting against ZAFT we don't care where he's from or what's his history.” Orphen continued, “The Titans aren't monsters y'know. Marcus is a friend. I mean he's famous since he was the only one to get through to Jenius 7.”
“What do you mean get through to Jenius 7?” Kriss was now intrigued.
“You mean you don't know? Which rock have you been hiding under princess.” Tano was now in boasting mode, “Suppose your Orb news doesn't comment on these matters.”
Kriss was getting annoyed at Tano's personality, “No they don't. Tell me, what do you mean by getting through to Jenius 7?”
“Fine. Marcus' nuke was the only one to hit Jenius 7.”
Ryan's fist slammed against the metal door to his locker. Totally unaware of the shocked looks from Akito, Riou, Vivian and several other backup pilots who were all in the locker room with him, Ryan leaned forwards on the locker looking down at the floor.
Hate, happiness, anger and joy all circulated in his body and mind. Why did Marcus have to show up here? Of all the places why at Heliopolis? To make matters worse, Marcus was the one who killed one of his comrades who was meant to take the Strike Gundam and now they were passing through the Jenius 7 graveyard. Why?
Was it sheer random coincidence that bought him and Marcus back together again or was it some higher being's idea of a sick joke? Either way, he was with ZAFT and Marcus was with the Titans. They were enemies, no matter which way you look at it.
Vivian put her arm on Ryan's shoulder to comfort him,
“Ryan, please don't be like this.” But he just shrugged her off. She backed away from him; her long green hair flowed in front of her face in the weightless environment. Vivian wasn't sure why Ryan was being so distant. He had never behaved like this before so what is going on? Maybe it was the locker room. If Major Nadist hasn't told all the pilots to wait there then Vivian would have taken Ryan to her room and relaxed him herself.
The door to the locker room opened with a swoosh and in floated Major Nadist. Her mask flashed as the light in the room reflected off the metallic material. She used her hands to swing around the door and her magnetised shoes connected with the floor. The pilots all stood to attention and gave the standard ZAFT salute. Ryan hadn't realised that Dena had come into the room and was still in contemplation by the locker.
Thinking quickly, Vivian gave him a sharp nudge with her elbow in the ribs. Ryan looked up at her and then saw the major. He straightened himself and saluted with the others.
“No need to be so formal.” Dena walked into the centre of the room. The mask gave her an air of mystery. Plus it hid her true identity from those who would recognise her though she could have probably didn't need the mask on the Versailles, but she was used to wearing it since her days at the academy. She brushed her blonde hair behind her mask and eyed the young Coordinators standing before her. They were the best of the best at the academy, though she couldn't use them directly, her presence with them would be enough. Either way, her plan and destiny was coming into fruition.
“Yes sir.” The ZAFT pilots replied in unison.
“I would like to use this chance to congratulate all of you on completing the mission successfully.” Dena realised that she could have chosen her words a bit more carefully as she felt a sense of gloom from all the pilots. The mission was technically a success, but to young ZAFT officers, seeing their comrades die right in front of their eyes would be painful. But she knew they would get over it eventually.
“We are still awaiting new orders from the ZAFT council, but until then we are to continue our course to Earth. So until we pass through the shoal zone, you guys should get some rest and relaxation.”
“Yes sir!” The cloud of gloomy atmosphere dissipated from the room and replaced by calm and relief.
“Since the Jenius 7 shoal zone is strictly a none combat zone, we should be able to proceed through it safely.” Dena continued, “Captain Reyes will be conducting a remembrance ceremony while we are there. However, I want you all to launch when we reach Jenius 7. With the loss of all the GINNs and my Gerbera Tetra is out of commission means that you people are our last defence. If the Titans strike, I want to be ready. Report for duty at 1400 hours, until then, relax. Dismissed.”
After hearing Major Nadist's orders, the pilots began shuffling out of the locker room.
“Ryan, I would like to have a word with you.”
Ryan stopped and connected his feet with the floor. A worried look from Vivian caught his attention. He smiled and nodded, his expression told Vivian that he wasn't going to be long and there was nothing to worry about. She smiled back as the doors closed behind her.
“Yes Major?” Ryan stood up straight and stared straight at the opaque plates on her mask. He could make out a pair of eyes, but the light in the room gave them a tint of blue. He always thought that her face and eyes were totally disfigured, but something wasn't right. Perhaps it was the lighting in the room. The thought was put into the back of his mind.
Dena stood there for a few seconds before answering; thinking of the right way to say what she wants to say.
“I hear that your friend is the pilot of the Strike Gundam, is that correct?”
“Yes sir.” Ryan knew where this was going. She'll say destroy him or don't let his presence cloud your judgment, either way it won't be something he would like to hear.
“Can you convince him to join our side?”
“Wha-Wh-Excuse me?” Ryan wasn't sure how to react.
“You heard me. Can you convince him to join us?” Dena's voice became more and more firm. Once she had something planned she was going to do it, no matter who was standing in her way.
“I'm-I'm not sure. Why?” He stuttered back.
Dena turned to the door and indicated Ryan to follow her. The two of them exited the locker room and began roaming the long corridors of the Nazca-Class ship.
“From what I've seen from your battles and the intelligence gathered, I'd say that your friend is a Coordinator.”
Sherlock Holms strikes again. Ryan didn't dared said that out loud, but a person's got to make his own humour in war. Though whether this was appropriate for the situation, he didn't know.
“I wonder why he is fighting with the Titans. Do you know?”
“No sir.” He had no idea either. He never got the chance to ask Marcus, he probably never will.
“Well, I suppose it doesn't really matter. I think that if you get the chance, see if you can convince your friend to come around. However,” The two of them had reached a lift door. Dena pressed a button to call the lift, “I do not want to see you or your team mates hurt. Destroying the Strike Gundam is still the primary objective, convincing your friend is just something that would be a nice outcome.”
"Yes sir."
The doors opened revealing an empty lift compartment. Dena stepped inside and turned to Ryan, “I don't want to see young talent like your friend's being wasted. See what you can do.” The doors closed, leaving Ryan staring into nothingness.
Kriss was utterly stunned. Marcus, a seventeen-year-old boy, was the one who single-handedly ended the lives of 250,000 people. She didn't believe it; she wouldn't believe it. She looked at Marcus, her eyes wide with shock. His eyes were closed, as if ashamed to look at her. Tano kept on talking.
“Yeah,” He boasted and leaned his muscular arms on Marcus' shoulders, “Our lil' ace here was quite the pilot in his Gaplant. While me and Orphen's Gaplant was damaged, Marcus somehow dodged and weaved past through those freaks. You should have been there. It was great!”
Tano noticed the look on Kriss' face and that on Marcus' so he kept on talking. Orphen, however, was trying to stop his ignorant teammate, but Tano just shrugged him off and hushed him up.
“Shame those nukes were automated. Eh, Marcus? I really don't think headquarters trusted us with nukes. They programmed those things to fire once you get close enough. They didn't think we would be good enough to fly and pull the trigger! They must think we're some kind of idiots! Oh I wished I could've seen the colonists' faces when the nu-”
Kriss' voice echoed down the corridor. Several nearby crewmembers turned their heads to see what all the commotion was about. Tano fell silent. Marcus looked up at her, expressionless.
“You people sicken me! You killed 250,000 people and you're talking about it as if it was nothing!” She pointed her finger at Marcus, tears were forming in her eyes, “I thought you were different from them, but now I see that you're just the same. You're all monsters without any compassion for others!” Kriss turned and ran off down the corridor.
Marcus watched her turn around the corner before he realised that he needed to go after her. Freeing his shoulder from Tano's arm, Marcus sprinted off to find Kriss, leaving both Tano and Orphen behind.
The door to the sickbay slid open and Captain Blanc stepped out.
“What was that about?”
“Nothing, sir!” Both Titan pilots stood to attention.
“Well, keep an eye on those two. Teenagers can be a handful, you know.” He said as he walked towards the lift to the bridge.
When the captain entered the lift, Orphen turned to Tano.
“That was incredibly mean.”
“I know. But someone's gotta make sure our resident freak is kept under control. A humiliation now and then should keep him below us.” Tano said with an evil smile. Orphen shook his head. Tano had somehow always surpassed him, even with hate.
They were programmed to obey the orders of any Titan officer they serve under without hesitation, so if the Captain said jump they'd ask how high. They were programmed to hate any Coordinator on sight, even if they were on the same side. That is how they are and that is how they always will be.
A cleanly shaven mechanic shouted at Kriss as she clambered into the cockpit of her Red Frame. The head technician had no idea what was going on, all he knew that if he doesn't stop that girl he was going pay, big time.
The eyes on the Red Frame's green eyes glowed and the engines hummed as Kriss brought it to life. The clamps that held the Red Frame in the metallic rigging released the suit when its main engines came to life. Panicking technicians and soldiers ran in all directions like ants trying not to get trampled. Kriss glared back at the head mechanic who has been shouting non-stop. The man was taken aback by the sudden piercing look from the young girl.
“Open the hanger bay door.” She said, “Now.”
The head technician didn't know whether it was the fact that the suit was now looking directly at him or the girl's voice that made him obey without hesitation, but either way, when one of the pilots who could have stopped her arrived in the hanger bay the Orb mobile suit had already stepped out into open space and took off into the shoal-zone. Before he knew it, the pilot that came in had also boarded the Strike Gundam and flew out of the hanger bay in pursuit.
The man slumped down onto the control panel with a bewildered expression. He stared at the half empty hanger and disconnected wires and rigging. He slammed his head down into his folded arms.
“God, this just isn't my day.”
In the vast shoal zone, Kriss didn't know where she could go. She was far away from home, there was no one around who could help her and her Red Frame was on minimal fuel. It wasn't good.
Darting around the maze of scrap metal, glass and rocks, Kriss finally realised how alone she was. She remembered before the Heliopolis incident she couldn't wait to get rid of Kuro and Terry, so why is it now that she's becoming lonely? She watched as piece upon piece of debris appear and then disappear from her screen, they were floating about in space without a care for what was going on around them.
Before long, the Red Frame stopped in an empty part of the Jenius 7 shoal-zone. Kriss undid her seatbelt and curled up in her seat. She was angry and afraid. How could she allow herself to become allies with a bunch of murderers? Destroying Jenius 7 without a single speck remorse. But how could a boy like Marcus be the one who committed such an atrocity? Marcus was normal teenager, not some bald guy holed up in a cave dreaming up world domination. Her perceptions of good and evil were completely destroyed.
Kriss pressed her forehead into her legs. Why did she give a damn about Marcus anyway? She had only met him for a few days yet all her thoughts are about him, about how Marcus was a nice looking teenager, about how he saved her from the ZAFT mobile suit, about how they fought in battle, about how he destroyed Jenius 7…Maybe she wanted to be with him. Maybe there was some connection between the two of them.
“Kriss!” She jerked her head up and looked around her. The main viewer automatically zoomed in on the approaching MS; it was the Strike Gundam. His face appeared in the communications monitor.
Wiping a droplet of tear away from the corner of her eye, Kriss sat up and grabbed the controls. The Red Frame lifted its beam rifle and pointed directly at the Strike Gundam. Marcus stopped the Strike, unsure on what Kriss is about to do.
Several minutes of silence followed where both suits stared at each other. Finally Kriss spoke.
“Why did you come after me?”
Marcus hesitated before replying, “Because I was worried.”
“That's rich, coming from a mass murderer.” Kriss spat back at him. Marcus would usually become angry if anyone spoke to him like that, but this time he kept his cool.
“Kriss, I didn't want to kill those people. My orders were-”
“Your orders? Do you have no conscience? There were 250,000 people on that colony!” She yelled.
“I know.”
“So you would blindly follow the orders even if it means killing thousands of civilians? If the Titans told you to kill yourself, would you do it!”
“Yes, yes I would.”
Kriss was astonished to hear Marcus say that. It could have been Titan conditioning but the she felt sound of Marcus' voice that he told her an honest answer without all the propaganda.
“Why, Marcus? Why?”
“Because I owe them my life and everything that you see before you.” Marcus sighed. He heard Kriss whisper `what' in her cockpit. He owed her an explanation.
“It was on Side 3, when I was only 9 years old. The Zeon War just ended. My parents and I was living a peaceful life. Then one day, a splinter group of Zeon called ZAFT came to my house and killed my parents. Their crime? For not publicly speaking out against Earth during the war. I watched them barge into my home. They shot my father first and then raped my mother. My mother told me to run. I ran. Then I heard the gun shot. They were dead.”
“I wondered around the colonies for four years, living off what others throw out. When I reached Side 1, I was badly beaten by a gang. I would have died if it weren't for the Titan officer who saved me. He didn't care whether I was a colonist or that I was a Coordinator. He took me into the Titan base on Side 1 and the people of the base took me in as one of their own. They gave me food and shelter; they treated me like a normal person. I enrolled in the Titan Academy in California a year later."
"You probably think the Titans filled my head with colony hating propaganda, don't you? No. I had enough hate in me already; they didn't need to do any more. Most of my academy days were spent alone as an Coordinator outcast. But I still had the burning desire to get revenge.”
Kriss still pointed the Red Frame's beam rifle as she listened to Marcus tell her about his past. She felt that this was an excuse for why he did what he did, but he began pouring his soul out to her.
“After I graduated,” Marcus continued, “I was assigned to the Severn. The Jenius 7 battle was my first mission. I was going to get my revenge. But when I watched Jenius 7 light up from my nuke, I thought I would be happy, but instead...I felt nothing. I thought that by doing my duty I would be accepted by those around me, but I just felt lonelier.”
“I thought I destroyed a ZAFT base that was stockpiling nuclear warheads, but when I heard I killed nothing but civilians I felt something disappear inside of me. When I look in the mirror, I don't see Marcus Kolin anymore.”
“Then who do you see?” Kriss asked.
“I don't know.” Marcus' voice began to tremble as he played back the destruction of Jenius in his mind over and over, “I don't know who I am anymore, but I know what I've become; I've become a monster.”
At that moment, Marcus broke down in tears. He told girl he knows nothing about his inner most thoughts and feelings, but the sensation of being with her now was the same as the feeling he got when he first met Kriss on Heliopolis. It was a feeling of relaxation and comfort, a feeling that he longed for such a long time that only a parent can give to a child.
Marcus regained some composure and looked straight down the barrel of the beam rifle.
“Shoot me if you want Kriss. You won't be killing anybody, because Marcus Kolin died with the colonists of Jenius 7. I'm alone in this world. Killing me wouldn't change anything.”
Then it hit Kriss. Marcus was the same as her. He was alone in this world, without anyone to care for him. She was alone too. Though there are people around her, she never felt anything with anybody else until she met Marcus. Maybe the connection is real and fate has bought them together. She lowered the Red Frame's rifle.
“Why aren't you going to shoot me?”
“Because if I do, how can you get the chance to redeem yourself?” She smiled at Marcus as the tension between them finally disappeared. They looked at each other through the communications monitor, neither saying a word when the Severn came into view. The Strike Gundam held out its hand to the Red Frame Astray, beckoning it to come back.
The Astray's hand reached out and grabbed onto the Strike's. Kriss turned off her communications channel to the Strike and used the old art of skin talk, where sound vibrations would travel through the metal in the suits to allow the pilots to speak to each other.
“I doubt anyone will forgive you for what you did, Marcus.” She said quietly, “But I'm willing to give you the chance to try.”
The wreckage of Jenius 7 looked oddly serene from where Ryan's Aegis Gundam was. The lush greenery and blue waters were all frozen in time by the coldness of space. The Aegis, Duel, Buster and Blitz Gundams all stood in a square formation around the Nazca ship Versailles. None of the pilots said a word since they launched, each of them in deep thoughts about the people who perished on Jenius 7.
Almost everyone on board the Versailles lost someone they knew. Riou lost grandparents, as did Akito. Ryan lost both his parents, but Vivian, the Blitz Gundam's pilot, was the one most affected by the tragedy since her entire family lived on Jenius 7. Now, she was the only surviving member with no one to care for her apart from Ryan.
There was an unusual silence onboard the Versailles, but that was to be expected. All that could be heard was the ship's engines and the odd beeping from one control console or another. Looking at his watch, Captain Brennan Reyes pressed a button to open an international channel and began the memorial.
“Today, we return to the place where many of our loved ones rest. I know that there are many of you on board who have lost friends and family in the Tragedy of Valentine. I can share your pain. My son and wife were on Jenius 7. I miss them greatly, as I know you miss your nearest and dearest.”
On the bridge of the Severn, Captain Blanc knew that the ZAFT ship would make a stop at Jenius 7, and thus kept the Severn a good distance away. Unlike Tano and Orphen, he was a middle-aged captain without any enhancement to his body or mind.
He felt ashamed of giving the order for allowing his pilots to launch with the nuclear warheads. He felt guilty to be here again. But he kept that inside him. For being a captain meant that he would have to distant his emotions from his job, however he felt it was an obligation to give those onboard his ship a chance to morn and reflect on what they did, so he channelled the broadcast throughout the entire ship.
“However,” Captain Reyes went on in the speakers, “Some have said that those who do not remember history, they are doomed to repeat it. But we are living in a new era. We must look forwards, not back. Though there are differences between naturals and Coordinators, we are still human beings.”
Tano and Orphen were both sat in the officer's lounge when the broadcast was piped through the PA system. Both of them just sat there, not a single speck of remorse of what their people did. Tano snorted slightly when he heard the ZAFT captain mention that Coordinators were human. As far as he was concerned, all Coordinators were vermin and he was the exterminator.
Kriss sat on the bed alone in a darkened room as she listened to the broadcast. She was confined to quarters after her return to the ship. She didn't want to be alone. She wanted someone familiar to be with her.
The door to her quarters slid open and the bright light of the corridor beamed in. A figure stood silhouetted in the doorway. It was Marcus.
“We've received a communication from Orb telling us that you'll be picked up.” Marcus said sternly, trying not to give any indication of emotion. His mind was still dwelling on Kriss' words and compassion during their encounter.
“Thanks.” She grumbled in reply. Obviously being stuck in a room would make anyone depressed.
“If it makes you feel better, a Major Kuroshin Watanabe and a Major Terrance Rockfield sent the transmission to us. Aren't they the pilots of the other two Astray units?” He saw her eyes light up instantly when he mentioned the two names.
“You mean they're alive?”
“Yes. We'll rendezvous with them at the Barge orbit section 9 in a few days.”
Kriss leapt off the bed and hugged Marcus. Though Kuro and Terry can be annoying at times, they have been her guardians since her birth. She thought that they died when Heliopolis was destroyed.
Marcus was taken slightly aback by Kriss' hug. His first reaction was to pull away, but decided against it. He felt happy for her and for some reason, he was happy as well. Marcus felt her warmth, it was like his mother's. He savoured the moment and wished it would last forever.
In the speakers, Captain Reyes paused and then continued.
“As human beings, we must have the capacity to forgive. As a girl once said in her diary during a war long ago: `There are good in everyone'. We cannot change what has been done in the past, but we must ensure that this shall never happen again. Never again.”
Both ships departed from the shoal-zone one at a time. Because of space Captain Blanc kept between them, the Severn and the Versailles were roughly the same distance as they entered the shoal-zone. Nothing gained, nothing lost. Both side's mobile suits launched yet again, ready for battle.
On a nearby colony, a boy leaned out of his window in the darkened night environment. He looked up into the sky and out of the colony window to see the two ships' engines streaking through the darkness as if they were comets. His mind was not set on war, but on games and what he would get for his birthday.
Maybe I'll get a model GINN. He thought as he dozed off on the windowsill, dreaming of becoming a famous pilot one-day.