Standard time 14:00 hours....
At dawn, the wide ice plain emerges in a dim blue colour.
At this time, the sun does not go up at the South Pole. While it's still a little while until the real winter comes, there will be no change in the harsh environment.
In the neighbourhood of Barclay Base, the ice surface has been leveled to serve as a runway, where cargo planes can land.
There, two mobile suits are facing each other.
They are Tallgeese and Heavyarms.
A very dry wind, with no humidity at all, blows between the two suits.
In the next moment, without anybody giving a sign, the two suits standing still start moving at the same time.
Tallgeese shoulders the very long beam rifle and Heavyarms brings the Gatling canon on the left arm into position. Both their attacks are almost simultaneous. Heavyarms leaves the spot a moment early and Tallgeese's beam lets the glacier melt.
With the heat, steam envelops them in abundance.
That's where Heavyarms goes into hiding.
Having lost sight of the target, Zechs lets his eyes run over the radar.
"The response on the radar has disappeared?" groans Zechs and switches the sensors to heat perception.
Because the Gundam metal does not respond, it's difficult to catch it with the radar. However, the suit emits heat.
There's a response in the middle of the vapour.
In the moment Zechs steps onto the pedals and wants to change directions, bullets attack him from the white silk curtain.
Reflexively, he pushes the lever with the right hand and ignites the Vernier engines. Escaping high up, Zechs fires in rapid succession with his beam rifle towards the heat source.
Escaping as if slipping through a curtain of steam, Heavyarms starts shooting the surrounding glacier to pieces with the Gatling canon.
"Does he intend to cut off the heat source with the sprays of snow?"
The red shape in the middle of the monitor loses rapidly its colour.
Without caring about this, he aims at it and shots his beam into it.
Heavyarm's orange shoulder opening becomes visible in the middle of the snow sprays.
"There he is!"
Just in that moment when he wants to correct his aim, he is attacked by small missiles. They create snow sprays, and additionally they are a lure which, by showing themselves, want to prevent him from perceiving his target.
After he has shot down the missiles coming directly at him with the beam canon, additionally homing missiles approach him from behind.
Pushing th throttle lever, Zechs shakes off the missiles and turns towards Heavyarms on the ground.
"With a fight on this level we cannot kill each other."
Zechs shows a bold smile as if he were enjoying the battle.
On the other side, Heero pushes aside the control lever with his left arm, which is beginning to ache, and murmurs "His reactions are quicker than in the battle before. It seems he is now able to master the abilities of his mobile suit."
With the attack, in which he has used up all his missiles, having no effect at all, Heero realizes that the situation is slowing becoming uncomfortable for him.
That's when Tallgeese comes quickly closer.
He counterattacks with the Gatling canon in the chest part.
Evading the line of fire, Tallgeese points his beam rifle at Heavyarms.
While Heero quickly moves away, he attacks with the left arm's Gatling canon.
However, the sound of the shots stops after a few moments.
"Out of bullets...."
Clicking his tongue at the indication of the remaining bullets in the lower part of the monitor, Heero lets his eyes flicker to the switch to the side of the throttle lever.
If you run out of bullets, press this switch.
That's what Trowa has told him. Maybe it's a preparation he did after Heero himself has gone to bed.
After he has pressed the switch, there's a slight jerk and the left arm comes off at the elbow joint and falls to the floor. Usually, only the Gatling canon should come off. Thinking this is strange, Heero checks the left arm and opens his eyes wide at what he sees there.
The beam sabre has been put into the elbow joint. It's not part of Heavyarm's original equipment. It must have been moved over from Wing.
"Trowa has certainly taken care of a lot of things."
Drawing the beam sabre with his right hand, Heero takes position, facing Tallgeese.
The beam's brightness emerges in the dawn.
"That's how you should do it!"
After throwing away Tallgeese's beam rifle, Zechs draws the beam sabre from the shield on the left shoulder.
"It's been two hours since the fight has started...."
Noin watches the battle's state the whole time from the tower which serves as a control place.
However, from this distance it's very difficult to grasp the details of the situation with the naked eye. Additionally, the steam generated as the beams melt the ice causes the view to become bad.
"It's lasting a long time for a meaningless duel."
Trowa, who is equally watching the battle, murmurs this casually.
"Meaningless? Meaningless you say!?"
Noin turns her head towards Trowa with a grim face.
"Is it not? I don't know the details, but the persons in this base are pursued by OZ. What meaning is there to fighting in such a remote area when you have common enemies? Is this the destiny among pilots? That's absurd."
At the Trowa-like calm words, even Noin stops her counterargument. After losing her words and being quiet for a moment, she finds thoughtful words.
"Maybe that's how it is. But among enemies, who have met to target each other's life until just recently, not having a destiny is strange. This is a battle which will be fought until they feel it's meaningless."
"Are they searching for themselves again since they have lost themselves in the present era? It's a soldier's fate. An enemy is needed."
"No, if he can find something to protect, a soldier can come back to life. That's why it also takes some time!"
Zechs is lost now. Inside OZ, he has lost the meaning of his existence and then he has grown tired of looking for the next way to take and for something to protect. Even Zechs must know where the answer is. In order for him to recognize this inside himself, it is necessary the he fights this battle to the end, as meaningless as it may be. In order to settle this inside himself.
"We have also lost our way how to protect the colonies. But we must not spend time in such a place. The situation becomes worse from minute to minute. In order to let this end soon, I will watch for any intervening persons."
"The investigation party...?"
Just as Noin nods, she remembers that Trowa's mobile suit is now used by Heero, and turns in confusion towards Trowa.
"Trowa, how will you fight?"
"I will get back from Heero what he borrowed."
Having answered calmly, Trowa leaves the room.
At that time, Relena flies high over the South Pole in her private jet. It's the same route Noin and the others had used to approach Barclay base.
"Pagan, are we not there yet?" asks Relena Pagan as she comes into the cockpit from the cabin. She pretends to be unconcerned, but the hurry shows in her nervous behaviour.
"We should be able to see the base in maximum eight minutes."
As Pagan is grasping the control lever and answering, objects approaching quickly are displayed on the radar.
Pagan raises a nervous voice. At the same time, a communication comes in.
"Civilian plane, this is an airspace for operations. Change your course immediately!"
Three fighter planes are approaching in a position to surround Relena's private plane.
As Relena detects the sight of the fighter planes, she says in a strong tone "Pagan, hurry up! We must not stop!"
"But these may be scout planes from the investigation party which is pursuing Zechs Merquise. I don't know what they will do!"
"They won't pursue us until the Barclay base. Escape them!"
At Relena's strong tone, Pagan tips the control lever. The plane inclines to the side while increasing the altitude.
The fighter planes come following them.
"They intend to attack!"
Noticing the intention of the fighter planes, Pagan raises his voice.
In that moment, the fighter plane in front suddenly explodes. And then the second and third plane are enveloped in a flash and dissolve.
"What was that?"
Relena discovers on the white ground appearing in the dim light the mobile suit which she has seen before in the St. Gabriel school. She raises a shout towards the radio.
However, the voice coming back is a voice she doesn't remember hearing before. The quiet, deep voice, which is not Heero's, asks Relena "A civilian? He fights further ahead. I don't know who you are, but what are your intentions?"
As a sign that he would shoot them down depending on the answer, he points the beam rifle at the cockpit. But Relena doesn't even look frightened and answers calmly "I want to have the fight with Zechs stopped. There is no meaning in this fight."
Lowering the beam rifle, the mobile suit gestures with the barrel towards what is behind him.
"Agreed. It would be better to hurry up. The investigation party seems to move quickly."
After cutting the connection, Relena looks at Pagan.
"I accept, Miss Relena. There may be some turbulence, please forgive me."
Pagan pushes away the control lever with a jerk and lowers the nose of the plane.
Each of the two mobile suits seizes its beam sabres and a hard battle unfolds in the twilight.
Every time the steam of the dissolved ice enters the field of charged particles created by the beam sabres, a beam lights up. With the beam containing a tinge of blue, it discharges a fantastic light similar to the light blue twilight.
The battle however cannot be fantastic.
The jarring sound of metal roars and tremors occur which shake the frozen earth surface.
The smell of ion increases in the extremely cold air and the odour of heated oil floats away with the wind.
The clashing huge arms cause a thundering noise and the smell of metal, then they separate quickly.
Evading the beam sabres slashing down with a roar, they immediately step towards the enemy again and set off another attack.
Not having left any weapons, the fight of the two opponents has changed into a close combat with beam sabres.
His left arm's movements are slow.
Heero feels the stiffness in Tallgeese's movements.
"You intentionally left a weak point. You're too considerate."
Heero murmurs this as he stares at Tallgeese on the monitor with a grim expression.
However, Heero also can't move the left arm of his mobile suit. Here it's because the arm ends at the ellbow. Besides, Heero's arm has endured overuse during many hours and can't move anymore, as if it were paralyzed.
Even if he can't use the arm, he has to move it in order to preserve the balance of the suit. Additionally, the switch to change between main camera and radar is beside the left control lever.
Spitting this out as his fingers don't move as he would like, Heero steps onto the pedals to change to reverse mode and puts Heavyarms at some distance.
On the other hand, Zechs sees Heavyarms' movements and understands that the damage to his left arm has been noticed.
"Got it. You must have thought I was weak."
Zechs murmurs this with a bitter face.
During the long time I have spent with OZ and Treize, I have brought a selfish aesthetic sense into battle. Among persons fighting each other, even if they are split into allies and enemies, this is the only spirit they can certainly agree on. However, the Gundam pilots are desperate. They are in the mood to fight even if they have to throw their lives away. Your way of living is a true soldier's way. I am weak!
Zechs inner impatience changes into a roar.
"I want to get rid of such appearance in this battle!"
At the same time, he steps onto the pedals and pulls the control lever towards himself. Tallgeese takes big steps towards Heavyarms and swings downward at it.
Heavyarms wants to protect itself from the attack and holds up its right arm, but is overcome by the force and thrown down.
"Now the finishing blow!"
Tallgeese lets its raised beam sabre flash towards the head of the fallen Heavyarms.
At that moment, a shout intrudes into Zechs and Heero's communication device.
From Zechs' left side, a small jet plane comes flying into the main monitor. On the side of the displayed plane, Zechs recognizes Sanc Kingdom's coat of arms and raises his voice.
"Is that you, Relena?!"
He pushes the control lever back and draws back the beam sabre he wanted to swing downwards.
Once there is a distance between Tallgeese and Heavyarms, Relena's jet plane squeezes into it.
"A letter has come for you!"
Relena's exclamation resounds in Heero's cockpit.
"You're in the way, get away!"
Heero raises Heavyarm's beam sabre as if to chase her away.
"No, I will not get away! In this letter, you are shown your future way of life. If you want to atone, you have the obligationn to listen to the answer."
"What are you saying?"
"It's a letter from Mrs. Noventa."
At Relena's words, Heero's hand releases the control lever it had grasped.
"She says that she forgives you and that you should shape the future. It's your duty to live! It's your mission to live and show the way to peace!! She won't forgive you if you die carelessly. Not to mention in such a meaningless battle!!"
Relena's jet plane ignites the Vernier engines for vertical landing and take-off and wants to land between the two mobile suits.
Why have you come at such a time!? A time when this matter is finally resolved!!
While Zechs grits his teeth in the cockpit of Tallgeese, he calls out with a voice as calm as possible "Princess!"
"That is Zechs Merquise, isn't it?"
Relena's cold voice comes back.
"Princess, kindly withdraw from here. I have to beat the murderer of my subordinates!"
"So I order you in the name of the Peacecrafts! Stop this battle immediately!!"
Relena's voice echoes with a strong sense of dignity. Hearing this, Zechs' mouth shows a slight smile.
However, as if he were shaking off these thoughts, Zechs switches off the communicator and spits out resolutely "Relena, with your own eyes, behold how dirty and mean a fight is."
Manipulating the pedals, Zechs goes around the jet plane and strikes his beam sabre down at Heavyarms, which cannot get up.
Heavyarms only extends his arms to protect itself.
"How cruel.... If you are a warrior, if you are a Peacecraft knight, you shouldn't be behaving in such an unfair way."
Relena watches the situation from the cockpit of the jet plane, which is about to land. Her faces turns red in anger.
"Miss Relena, a communication from Lieutenant Noin is coming in."
As soon as Relena has accepted the microphone Pagan has presented her, she calls out.
"Miss Noin, I have misunderstood you, I thought you were more honest. You can easily watch this fight in silence, can't you. This is neither a game nor a duell. They are only meeting to kill each other!"
Noin's expression on the screen is calmer than usual.
"That's how it is. If I seem to be a somebody only worth looking down upon, it can't be helped. But I believe in Major Zechs. I don't intend to interrupt what he wants to do."
"Is that battle a behaviour you can still trust!?"
After discarding her with one word, Relena switches to the circuit connected with Heero and shouts "Heero! Please kill Zechs! A person belonging to a mean organisation like OZ is shame for Sanc Kingdom!! I don't care, kill him!"
"Don't, Miss Relena!!"
Noin's voice contains more sadness than Relena can ever remember hearing in her voice before, and stops her actions.
"Please stop. It's certainly true that he has acted together with OZ. And I won't deny that mistakes have been made. That he chose this way because of his love to Sanc Kingdom is not an excuse either. However, Miss Relena... Whatever fate dealt, please stop the unfortunate idea to wish for your older brother's death."
"Older brother? My older brother?"
Relena murmurs this and then turns around towards the pilot's seat.
The butler nods quietly.
"I apologize for hiding this from you. It was his earnest request."
Noin starts talking about Zechs to the surprised Relena.
Namely that Zechs has sworn revenge when Sanc Kingdom was destroyed by the Alliance army. However, gathering up the scattered forces of Sanc Kingdom was difficult. In order to get closer to the Alliance, Zechs joined OZ and only awaited his time. Hiding his own birth, he donned the mask of Zechs Merquise. Then, with killing the Alliance brigadier general Onegell, who had attacked Sanc Kingdom, and ultimately causing the Alliance as such to collapse, he completed his revenge.
However, this time OZ has brought new chaos to the world and through this, Zechs has also lost sight of the meaning of his own existence. He can only assert his existence in the fight with the Gundams. In order to discover his own purpose and the meaning of his existence, which he has lost as a soldier, this fight is never meaningless for Zechs.
"I continue to believe in him. I want to go with him in whatever he wants to do, in whatever he wants to discover."
Seeing the serious look of Noin on the monitor, Relena realizes "You like him, my brother."
Softening her expression, she asks this of Noin.
"Yes, I love him."
Unpretentiously, Noin nods.
"Please look after my brother forever."
"If it is within my abilities. Major Zechs does reckless things as well."
At Noin's answer, which is mixed with a smile, Relena thinks about her own actions and smiles.
"It's the Peacecraft blood, isn't it."
Just then, on the monitor, Noin turns towards the side. Then a quiet voice is heard coming from that side.
"Numerous cargo planes in attack formation are approaching from three o'clock. It's probably the investigation party."
At Noin's question, a voice with suppressed astonishment comes back.
"What I can confirm are already more than thirty planes. It's a big unit."
"Send out all the mobile suits we can use!"
After shouting orders immediately towards somebody outside the range of the monitor, Noin looks Relena in the face.
"Miss Relena, the investigation party has come. Please escape immediately!"
"But, what about you, Miss Noin, and Zechs, no, my older brother?"
"We'll be fine. But quickly now! Pagan, I'll leave it to you."
Pagan immediately reaches for the power lever. With the width of the ice field, there's plenty of it to use as a runway.
Looking after the plane as it flies away, Heero operates the controls with his left thumb, in which he doesn't have any feeling anymore, and displays the dark blue sky of the opposite side on the monitor. The planes of the investigation party are just barely visible.
Immediately a message from Trowa comes in on the submonitor.
"Can you hear me, Heero? And Zechs. There are about thirty planes. Even adding the Aries stored in the planes, there are about one hundred machines. One person can take thirty machines. We can face them with capacity to spare."
Zechs' voice intrudes as if to cut off Trowa's words.
"It's me who has attracted them! Use the cargo plane which came here with Tallgeese on board and escape!!"
Heero cries out. He knows that Tallgeese has not enough weapons.
"I don't care! Go quickly!!"
Spitting out only this, the white hull of Zechs' Tallgeese is swallowed by the twilight.
"Heero, we will meet again! In order to fight!!"
This last message is sent to Heero only.
On the submonitor, Trowa murmurs "That guy will be a tough opponent to fight with from now on."
"Yes, indeed" murmurs Heero while looking up to the sky with a grim face.
At the base, Noin contacts Zechs.
"Major Zechs, we finished preparing our Aries troops."
"Then you will escape from there with Relena."
Noin is rendered speechless by the answer coming back. She wonders whether he has the intention to die.
"When you have safely escaped, I will surrender to the investigation party."
"I will fight as well!"
Noin calls out with a voice almost as if she wanted to cling to him.
"Noin, I'll show you how I will protect the promising leading figure of Sanc Kingdom. No, please let me protect her."
Noin notices that the tone of Zechs' voice is clearly different from before the battle and nods.
Zechs has assigned to himself the new task of protecting Sanc Kingdom and Relena. In such case, he probably won't put himself in danger of losing his life.
"Everybody, evacuate the base. Send out the cargo planes!!"
After issuing her orders to everybody who stayed behind in the base, Noin looks up to the deep blue sky through which Tallgeese has flown lastly one more time.
"Zechs, stay safe, please...."
Having murmured this quietly, Noin runs out of the room.
"Whatever form is fine. It's good that this fight has ended."
Having the same thoughts as Noin, Relena looks with a mixed expression down onto the faintly lit world, which is left behind further and further.