Chapter 1, Part 1 (3/3)

 

Three days after he has escaped in a stolen cargo plane from the New Edwards base, Quatre returns to the Maguanac troop's base.

The troop is now hiding in the desert and they live in movable tents as desert people. Quatre returns to the tent that was his at the time he took off.

"Ah, it seems I have not been discovered."

He regards the calm-looking surroundings, sounding relieved as he speaks this out loud, and then sits on a chair. Desert people do not use something like chairs, but since Quatre is not used to it, Rashid and his people have prepared one for him. When he left for the New Edwards operation, he went away saying he'd just visit a friend.

However, Quatre is being taught a lesson regarding his lenience. He didn't even imagine that all of the Maguanacs, starting with the commander, Rashid, and his three adjutants, Abdul, Auda and Achmed, would want to bear down on him immediately.

On the right side of the surprised Quatre is Rashid, and before his eyes are standing the three adjutants like a wall.

"Sir Quatre, if something had happened to you, what should we have told your father in the colonies?"

Abdul, wearing black glasses, advances on the surprised Quatre with a firm tone. Shoving him aside, Auda raises his already lifted eyebrows even further.

"Do you rely so little on us?"

"No, this is not the case!"

Quatre, seemingly uncomfortable, answers while making his small body even smaller.

The battle in New Edwards has already been reported long ago. Of course, it has become known that the battle was rather dangerous.

"We are here to protect you. Do you understand, Sir Quatre?!"

The three adjutants speak in chorus, approaching and surrounding Quatre. More to the inside, the Maguanac warriors, standing in a row, silently put him under pressure as well.

"Ah, well...."

At Quatre's slightly embarassed answer, Rashid, who so far has been standing silently and with his arms crossed, raises his voice.

"Okay, that's enough."

"But, Commander Rashid....!"

Auda raises his voice, feeling unsure about the answers so far.

"Sir Quatre will state that from now on he will no longer act on his own."

At Rashid's wink, Quatre nods hurriedly.

"Yes, I promise."

"Come on, we don't have free time to hang around! Hurry up with the repairs and supply of Sir Quatre's Sandrock! And anybody with a free hand can do maintenance on the mobile suits!"

After Rashid has chased out everybody, he returns to the tent. On a table, he starts making coffee.

"You've saved me, Rashid!"

At Quatre's works, mingled with a sigh, Rashid answers in a deep voice, with his back towards Quatre "I, too am angry; don’t forget that."

"Ah, yes...."

Quatre raises an embarassed voice.

The New Edwards mission had the potential to become quite dangerous—in fact, this actually did happen. That's why Quatre undertook the mission alone, without telling anybody in the Maguanac troop. However, the Maguanacs were not pleased by his thoughtfulness; instead, they have reprimanded Quatre.

But..... Quatre smiles while he thinks this.

What is it that makes him feel happy?

"And, what is it?"

Rashid asks this while he hands a steaming cup of coffee to Quatre.

"There are five suits, including mine. Maybe the name of all of them is 'Gundam'."

"All suits are Gundams?"

Quatre nods at Rashid's question. It's a conclusion based on judging the form and strength of the suits.

The name 'Gundam' was a term written on a blueprint held by a doctor who was hiding with the Winner family. Because he was pursued by OZ and did not want to reveal his true name, he was called Professor H. Sandrock is the suit Professor H developed, based on the blueprint.

"What about the pilots?"

Remembering the four pilots, Quatre nods again.

"They're all about the same age as I am. They're all very dangerous, but they're also good people."

"How do you know this?"

"I know it. Because the space heart tells me."

Almost embracing the cup, which has been filled with warm coffee, Quatre says this in a whispering tone.

"Space heart?"

Maybe this is something we as persons caught by the well of gravity can't understand. Perhaps Quatre, as an unusually sensitive person, can establish a connection to other people's heart.

This is what Rashid thinks while looking at Quatre's appearance.

"The space heart...."

Quatre murmurs it again, as if he were dreaming.

 

**********

 

Her appearance is as if she wants to show off her young body, with her tight hot pants and top. The big star of the circus troupe, Catherine Bloom, approaches the two boys sitting by a fire.

It's Trowa and the boy of Chinese descent he brought with him early in the evening - Wufei.

"So quiet! Neither of you have said a word for two hours already! Are you two enjoying the silence that much?"

"What's up?"

Trowa turns around towards Catherine, who has raised an astonished voice.

"What a greeting. Since your stomach must be empty, I brought you something. Here! Please eat it while it's still warm."

Catherine puts the plates with a cream stew full of vegetables, together with a tray, on a table. When she realized that nevertheless no answer would be coming back, she sighs in resignation.

"Since it's already here, eat properly. However, please do clean up. You have to educate them while they're still young! So, good night!"

Leaving this behind, Catherine returns to her own trailer house.

A taciturn child wins taciturn friends.

Turning around and looking at the appearance of the two, this is what occurs to Catherine.

While there are human voices coming from tents in the vicinity, it's certainly still as death around the two, as if even the insects were reluctant to chirp.

Catherine doesn't know that the two have attacked an Alliance base and Treize's fleet. She thinks they're normal friends. That's why it can be said that her impression was artless.

As if waiting for Catherine to leave, Trowa pours coffee from the pot put upon the fire and holds the cup out to Wufei.

"It might not be delicious, but...."

As if incidentally, he displays the stew, calling attention to it.

"I am not qualified to board Nataku."

Wufei spills in a voice without the force to even whisper.

"I see...."

Trowa nods quietly. He understands that it won't help if he says anything more.

Wufei doesn't want to say more than that he was defeated in the battle with Treize. Trowa also experiences the magnitude of this shock. However, the shock for Wufei, who fought directly with Treize, must be bigger than his. It was them who were defeated after all.

"Thank you."

After receiving the cup and saying his thanks, Wufei stares into the black coffee without moving. But what is reflected in his eyes are only Treize's cold pupils, as they stare down at him. The feeling of the cold blade pressed against his throat is still lingering.

At that time, I certainly died. I am now sitting here as a dead man. A dead man can't do something like fighting. There's no reason why Nataku would allow it.

"What will you do now? No problem if you stay here," asks Trowa while directing his gaze at Wufei.

Wufei's head is weakly shaken. It can be understood as either affirmation or negation.

"I.... have nowhere to go," murmurs Wufei.

His face shows no emotion whatsoever.

 

**********

 

The ball rebounds with a 'bong' and is passed over into the hands of a boy with a long braid.

Wearing an orange tank top, a bright one to the eye, the boy immediately evades the opponents covering him and runs dribbling up to the enemy line. There he discovers an uncovered teammate who is standing around as if the game had nothing to do with him.

"Heero!" shouts Duo and quickly passes the ball.

For a moment, Heero grimaces. He too appears in a tank top equal to the one the boy with the braid, Duo.

Opponents are rushing him, intenting to steal the ball away. In a flawless move, he passes the ball beneath their thighs, and is behind them in a moment. Grabbing the bouncing ball, he throws the ball towards the backboard in another flawless move. Heero jumps up and grabs the rebounding ball in the air, then throws it into the ring. It's without doubt a splendid dunk.

Shrill cheers are welling up in the audience, and Duo answers by waving both hands at them.

"Thanks for the cheering!" raises Duo his voice slightly.

"Hey, answer them! They are cheering especially for us."

Turning his back to Duo's voice, Heero silently leaves the court.

Shrugging his shoulders, as if to say that it is certainly hard to get along with this guy, Duo looks at the time. If he continues for two more minutes, the game will be over.

I'll get to know you better.

In a quick attack, Duo dashes and does easily another perfect shoot. Then he follows Heero.

"So this is where you are."

Duo discovers Heero on a hill at the coast with a beautiful view, and runs up to him.

"It's a good idea to move on while changing schools. It's only natural to go to school in our age."

Duo raises a cheerful voice while putting his arms on the fence and letting his long hair dance in the salty sea breeze.

After returning from New Edwards, Heero has, as usual, received a mission and transferred to this school. Of course, before changing schools, there was the intruding into the school system and the falsifying of the data. With the system disk immediately stolen, he did the hacking by himself. There shouldn't be any questions for the next two or three weeks now. If it were only this, the mission would have been easy to handle.

Duo has come to the same school yesterday evening, a day after Heero.

"What are your intentions?"

Heero answers in a voice which shows his displeasure.

"Huh? I have the usual intentions."

"You're standing out too much."

With his back turned to Duo, Heero says this as if he were about to kill and discard something.

"But I think that acting naturally raises less suspicion than hiding. You should enjoy a normal school life as well! If not now, then you won't be able to."

Pointing at his tank top, Duo is about to laugh. However, Heero cannot agree with him and tells him shortly in a cold voice "Don't involve me."

"And then it will be 'don't get in my way', eh? But I am aiming at the same thing. And no playing dumb!"

Duo is smirking at Heero, who is staring at him. With his thumb Duo points at the OZ fortress on the surface of the South Chinese sea.

"Only this fortress is reflected in your eyes."

Heero leans his back against the fence, as if ignoring Duo.

"By the way, how about 'first come, first served'?"

When Duo doesn't notice a reaction and turns his gaze back from the sea, a limousine stops before his eyes. A butler opens the door and from the inside a girl arranges her legs and steps out.

While holding back with one hand her long, light brown hair, which is ruffled by the sea breeze, the girl looks directly at Heero.

"Hey, that is...." murmurs Duo, eyes growing big.

It's impossible that he has forgotten her. It's the girl Heero wanted to kill when he first met her.

Dumbfounded, Heero murmurs the girl's name.

"Relena...."

Looking directly into Heero's eyes, Relena approaches, clad in a white one-piece.

"I wanted to meet you."

Saying this, she smiles at Heero.

"It's a strange young lady who wishes to meet the opponent wanting to kill her."

Looking from one to the other, Duo murmurs this as if it were unheard of.

 

**********

 

That evening, Relena is in her hotel room as the OZ maritime base is attacked by two Gundams.

"I've come to this place pursuing a boy. Father, are you surprised? But I absolutely wanted to meet him. That feeling... Father, do you understand?"

Sitting near the window, from where she can see the sea, Relena puts on the table a photo stand which contains a photo showing her together with Mr. Darlian.

"Until the grief eases, Heero has to support me. But he is just running away...."

Of course, there is no reason why Relena should think that her adoptive father's death was to be blamed on Heero. However, the reasons for the situation she is presently in are partly due to Heero. That's her conviction. Maybe Relena, without knowing it, is inside herself overlapping her father, who has come to stand in the line of fire of the negations with the colonies, with Heero as a spokesman of the will of the colonies. Maybe she wishes him to be a substitute for her father.

With a 'hah', Relena sighs deeply and turns her eyes towards the evening sea.

In the middle of the complete darkness outside, a burning light is swimming. It's the maritime base of OZ.

OZ....

There are also on this base people who have killed my father.

As Relena's eyes are filled with hate, the view outside the window is tinted red with a flash. A big explosion has occurred on the maritime base of OZ, swimming in the open sea.

"Heero?!"

Understanding at once who did this, Relena has jumped up and shouted.

Huge flames are blowing up and burn the evening sky. Thanks to the smoke, the stars are no longer visible. Discovering in the middle of the flames faintly a moving silhouette which she recognized, Relena murmurs "You're fighting, aren't you?"

Staring at the burning base as if she were eating into it, Relena firmly balls her fists.

The next morning, pupils are gathering on the hill with the nice view, located on the school ground, from early morning and are making a fuss. Last night, the OZ maritime fortress was attacked and destroyed and there's still smoke rising. That's what they're looking on.

After rushing out of the limousine, Relena lets her eyes fly over the crowd. She searches among them whether a known figure is there.

If the destruction of the base was the present mission, won't he change schools again?

Such thoughts are going through her head.

"Good morning, young lady! It's a nice weather today too, isn't it?"

In that moment, Duo's voice sounds merrily from behind her. When Relena turns around, Duo and Heero are about to go to school with satchels in their hands.

"Bye, we have classes now!"

Duo cheerfully waves his hand, while Heero goes silently away with his head bowed, not looking into Relena's direction.

"Let me be with you a bit longer. Because I want to become just as strong as you."

Hiding something in her heart, Relena watches Heero leave.

 

**********

 

Inside ruins, which have been left alone with nobody visiting for many years already, the sound of easy steps resounds.

Sanc Kingdom in Northern Europe... the mansion of the royal family Peacecraft.

In the walls, bullet holes are lined up here and there, and where the fired off flames have licked at the ceiling, traces of soot have been left. On the floor, traces of the destruction are clearly piling up, together with dust.

Now Zechs is walking through these corridors. With his back held very straight and a way of walking which somehow looks very much noble, he seems different from the Zechs seen so far.

Without any trace of hesitation, Zechs enters the burned down clubroom in the center of the royal palace, and looks up to the huge portrait hanging on the front.

Because the flames had licked at it, more than half of it is burned and discoloured, but it does not go so far that the person's painted dignity, which makes it difficult to commit a crime, is taken away. It's an elderly man with a full beard... it's the Peacecraft personality who has formerly stood up for total pacifism.

Zechs puts his hands to his masks and slowly pulls.

Long blond hair falls completely to his shoulders.

The noble, fine cut face is so similar that it closely resembles the one of the portrait before his eyes. There must have been a so much awe-inspiring face below the mask.

Putting the mask on the mantelpiece, Zechs looks up again to the portrait.

"Thirteen years have passed until I come to stand on this soil again. And much blood has been spilled for this. I could only live in a way which went against the teachings of total pacifism. My hand has been dirtied too much by blood. There is no way I can succeed the royal family Peacecraft."

Then he takes a crumbling photo stand left behind on the mantlepiece.

"But she can certainly inherit a land made to the ideals of Father. I will fight for this. Please forgive the failings of your son."

In the photo stand Zechs lifted the figures of a young boy and girl are remaining. The boy, seemingly strong willed, stares directly to the front and stands beside a girl with an innocent smile, as if protecting her.

"Relena...."

Having murmured this quietly, Zechs puts the photo stand back to its prior position and, putting the mask back on, turns his back on his father's portrait.

 

**********

 

In the OZ headquarters, Lady Une enters Treize's private room, pushing a cart. On the cart, together with roses arranged in a vase, is a bottle of red wine, seemingly a Bordeaux wine.

Lady Une pours the red alcohol into a wine glass and hands it to Treize.

"Lady, how about joining me?"

Treize lifts his glass and addresses her. However, Lady Une shakes her head slightly.

"Sir Treize, what shall I do about the next attack's target?"

Lady Une inquires without changing the businesslike tone in the least.

"Continue fighting. And winning would be fine."

Answering as if he were bored, Treize directs his gaze towards the red water's surface in his glass. What could be reflected in his eyes? Either blood or water....

"Then the ruling of the Earth Sphere would be fine?"

"It will be enough. OZ will be hated through this. It means that they will become a target for the whole world."

"Sir Treize...." murmurs Lady Une dumbfounded. She cannot understand completely the true meaning of Treize's words.

Tasting the wine by rolling it around in his mouth, Treize murmurs "A person who is disliked must be strong. This would be a good incentive for OZ."

If they aren't strong....

Lady Une interprets these words in her own way.

"I understand. I will design an operation immediately."

Saluting, Lady Une withdraws to another room.

In order to make OZ stronger than anything else in the world, she has to design the perfect operation. This is OZ's wish, and also Sir Treize's wish.

 

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