I do not own Gundam SEED.

Chapter 1: False Peace

He groaned and got up, rubbing his face. The bed creaked as his weight shifted and he stood up, stretching. He opened his eyes and squinted as the light from the window struck him head on.

"It is way too bright," he groaned softly, walking over to the desk on the other side of his room while putting on the shirt he'd prepared the night before. He then slowly made his way to the bathroom and turned on the light. He winced as, yet again, the light hit his eyes. He ran a hand through his navy-blue hair and rubbed the back of his head. The headache just wouldn't go away. Oh, well. He'd endure. He always did.

After fully getting dressed and scarfing down a sandwich quickly, he headed over to the door, grabbing the green backpack lying on the ground next to it. He picked up his ID card and checked it. Aleksander Kolodziej. The ID was still good. He always double checked it, even though it was good for another two years. He slung the bag over his shoulder and gazed fondly at the picture framed on the wall. It was him and another blue haired young man, with the same green eyes, though their expressions were slightly different. Alex's was a cocky smirk, while the other had a genuinely happy smile.

"Too bad you're not here, bracie," Alex said softly. "You'd definitely make the place more fun." He sighed and headed out, grabbing the cap from the counter and putting it on. He then took the audio device next to it and turned it on while putting the headphones on, as well. Finally, he headed out.

"The refugee camp has been suffering from a severe lack of food and basic aid items, putting 1.2 million people in a desperate situation. ZAFT has descended on Kaohsiung, with reports of their forces approaching within six kilometers of the city."

Alex took a look at his watch, and realizing he was late, broke into a run. As he approached the street he ran faster, cutting through the traffic, ignoring the car horn directed at him. He noticed the small group of teens huddled over a computer at a lone table on the far side of the park, and headed over.

"If these are from last week, Kaohsiung's probably fallen already," the teen standing at the edge said. He wore a light blue shirt, and his dark brown hair was a bit unruly. A backpack was worn over one shoulder. "Oh, by the way, Professor Kato's got more work for you and Alex," he added.

"Seriously?" The other boy asked, groaning as he leaned back on the seat. "I haven't even gotten half the stuff from yesterday done."

"About the news," the girl standing next to them said nervously. "Kaohsiung's pretty close. Will we be alright?"

"We'll be fine, Miriallia," Alex said firmly, surprising all three of them. He gave a shrug and the backpack fell on the table with a soft thud. "We're close, but Heliopolis is a neutral entity. ZAFT wouldn't dare attack." I hope, he thought silently. He turned off the audio player and placed it in the bag.

"Alex, where have you been?" The boy standing up asked, turning around with a smile on his face.

"Overslept, Tolle," Alex replied, smiling sheepishly. "Working off minimal sleep finally kicked me in the…privates…pretty hard," he said, glancing at Miriallia as she giggled. "How you doing over there, Kira?"

"Not good," Kira Yamato replied. He sighed and looked at Alex. "How do you handle this?"

"One day at a time," Alex said with a smirk. "And being old enough to drink adds another advantage."

Miriallia scowled at him. "Really, Alex? Again?"

"What?" Alex asked, unzipping his backpack and pulling out a single bottle of beer. "Does wonders for you. You get a little loose, relaxed, and if you have enough of them, even the most horrid of females can take the appearance of a supermodel. Or Lacus Clyne," he said, thinking of the young woman. "Her songs are amazing."

"Isn't she a bit young for you?" Kira asked, tilting his head and smirking.

Alex suddenly went rigid and he looked up towards the sky. "Yeah, that doesn't sound too good, does it?"

Tolle chuckled. He then walked over to Kira as he heard a news report coming through the speakers on Kira's laptop.

"Now I see why you haven't finished Kato's work," he teased.

"Shut it, Tolle," Kira snapped, twisting his head up to look at him. He quickly looked back, though. "It's Kaohsiung, apparently."

"The gunfire can still be heard even from this distance, and behind me, you can see that ZAFT has brought in their mobile suits. They've caused significant damage to the city even as the Alliance continues to try to evacuate the residents. We can see-"

The video suddenly cut out, and an error message came up on the screen.

"Well, that's that," Alex said, frowning. "Kaohsiung's gone. I got a friend who lived there."

Miriallia put a hand on his shoulder. "I'm sure he's fine," she said, although she didn't feel very encouraging, considering how her hand shook.

Alex took it and smiled at her. "It's fine, Milly. He's not there right now. He left some months ago. But I think some of his family was there. He's probably worried. His sister is, um-she's sick. Real sick. Has been all her life. Their father passed away some years ago, and so he and his mother took care of her. He dropped out of school and got a job so he could support them both. His mom eventually stayed home to take care of her daughter full time."

Miriallia smiled at him. "He sounds like a good guy."

"We should get going, Milly," Tolle said, and the two stood up and got ready to head to the lab. Kira touched the top of the laptop and the screen closed by itself. He placed it in his bag and looked at Alex as he stood up. "Kaohsiung's close by. Think there'll be trouble?"

Alex shrugged. "I remember hearing people say that there was no way the Alliance would attack the PLANTs. Then the Bloody Valentine happened," he said, his voice turning cold. "All because the people of Earth believed that Coordinators were abominations."

Kira looked at Alex, feeling sorry for him. He knew Alex lost family, knew who he lost, though he never pried for specifics. Alex was not the type to cry his heart out. Nor was he the type to accept apologies for the actions of others, which was why Kira didn't say anything.

Alex shook his head and looked at his friend. "Let's get going, braciszku. Don't want Kato to dump even more work on us for being late."

"Axis adjusted, right, 6.51 meters. Entry vector acceptable."

The Marseille III class transport entered the port, slowing down gradually.

"Braking jets off. Deceleration rate at 2.56. The ship is stopping. Stand by."

The captain took his military cap off, sighing in relief. "And with that, this ship has finally completed its last mission. You've served admirably as an escort. Thank you, Lieutenant La Flaga."

Lieutenant Mu La Flaga smiled as he turned to face the captain. "Don't mention it, sir. I'm just glad we got here without any issues. What's the status of the ZAFT vessels in the vicinity?"

The captain grabbed a datapad and looked it over. "We traced two vessels, but don't worry. They can't do anything since we're docked."

Mu scoffed. "Because this colony belongs to a nation that's neutral?" He shook his head. "What a joke."

The captain laughed. "And yet, thanks to that, we've been able to proceed with our plans up to this point. Orb is a nation of Earth, after all."

"Well, then, we're on our way, sir."

Mu and the captain turned to face a group of young men in uniform who were saluting. The captain returned the salute and watched as they left.

Mu sighed. "Are you sure they can handle things on the ground?" He asked, running a hand through his blonde hair.

"They may be young, but they were handpicked for the G-weapons. They all have top marks. They'll be fine," the captain replied, his shoulders sagging in relief. "On the other hand, someone like you would stick out like a sore thumb."

Mu gave a small smile and rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly.

Just out of range of Heliopolis' scanners, two ZAFT vessels lie in wait, the Vesalius and Gamow. The ships simply sat there as two small transport shuttles left and headed right for the colony.

"Don't look so disappointed, Ades," Rau le Creuset said as he pushed off and floated up above the captain's chair, grabbing the file and opening it to examine the findings. His face betrayed nothing and the mask prevented anyone from seeing his eye expressions.

"Yes, sir, but I don't think it would be a too bad if we waited for the council's-"

"It will be too late," Rau replied smoothly, grabbing one of the photos. "I have a sixth sense about these things." He tossed the photo past Captain Ades' face. Ades glimpsed a brief look of what appeared to be the head of a mobile suit. "If we let things slip now, we will all pay for this mistake with our lives. These new mobile suits the Earth Forces have built-we have to capture them before they're transported out of here."

As Kira and the others headed for the school, Alex noticed several girls ahead of them arguing. Alex grit his teeth and adjusted the cap he was wearing. Flay Allster, and several of her friends. Kira glanced at Alex and sighed. Alex made no attempt to hide his distaste of the Allsters. Kira didn't know why, but he knew Alex wouldn't budge on the subject.

"Come on, just admit it!" One of the girls said to Flay. The girl adjusted her dress, looking rather nervous.

"I already told you, no!" Flay replied shaking her head, her red hair whipping to the side. She noticed the small group and smiled. "Miriallia!"

"Maybe you know, Milly!" The other girl said quickly, turning towards her.

"What?" Miriallia asked, genuinely confused.

"Stop it right now!" Flay said, tugging on their arms.

"She got a letter from Sai Argyle!" The girls practically squealed at the same time.

Kira was shocked, but managed to hide it pretty well. Alex just groaned and rubbed his temple.

"She won't tell us any details, though," they continued, sounding dejected.

Tolle smirked and looked at Kira and Alex. Alex couldn't take it. "Honestly, a man just wants to get to where he needs to be, and the gossip brigade sets up a blockade," he said loudly. That was enough for all the girl's faces to turn red and they stood to the side as Alex walked past. He didn't miss the woman and two men that were behind them. Something about them made him uneasy. He couldn't place it, though.

"Thank you for making some room for us," the woman said, and Alex stood to the side as well, one hand coming up to grip the strap to the backpack tightly.

"No problem," he said. "After you."

The three walked past, and Alex kept an eye on them. His instincts were rarely wrong. He watched as they got in a car and drove off towards the spaceport.

"What's wrong?" Kira asked him.

Alex sighed and shook his head. "Nothing, I hope. Let's go see Kato."

"Sai wrote Flay a letter?" Tolle asked. "Looks like Kira has some competition." He put a hand on Kira's shoulder. "Don't mess this up, buddy."

Alex shook his head and kept walking as Kira protested. He smiled as he saw his ride. It was a blue sports car convertible. "C'mon guys, we can get there faster going in this."

"Can't we just walk?" Miriallia asked, disappointed. "Last time, you drove a bit too fast for my liking."

Alex shook his head again and sighed. "I swear I'll go the speed limit," he said, raising his right hand.

"Cool," Tolle said, jumping into the front left seat without even opening the door. "Shotgun."

Alex glared at him. "Koenig, get out of the front. You know that's Kira's seat."

Tolle looked dejected, but got out of the seat. Kira smirked. "That's what you get for assuming, Tolle." He sat in the seat and buckled up.

Alex got behind the wheel and put on his seat belt, as well. He turned the car on and put the car in gear as Miriallia got in behind him. "Everyone set?"

When they all said yes, he drove off, heading for the Morgenroete Research Center. Alex listened to their friendly bickering as he drove, enjoying the wind hitting his face. After a while, he slowed down as they approached the gate. He pulled his passkey out and slid it at the gate, looking at the sky as the barrier lowered to let them in.

"Any word from your parents, Kira?" Alex asked while the others conversed among themselves. He let off the brake and drove the car into the facility.

"Same as always," Kira said, shrugging. "They sent a message this morning. They're getting worried about how close to us the recent battles have been."

Alex shook his head. "You want to hear the truth, Kira?" He asked, looking to the side as he pulled the car onto a ramp.

Kira grimaced. "Not really, but okay."

Alex glanced at the group of friends in the back, then leaned in close to Kira. "No way in hell we stay out of this war forever."

Kira turned sharply towards him, eyes wide.

Alex shrugged. "Truth. A war as big as this, between Naturals and Coordinators-history will remember it for sure. When the war ends, George Glenn will be a footnote. This, though-this will be a hundred pages at least," he explained, looking at him as he pulled into a parking spot.

"So, we just delayed the inevitable?" Kira asked, glaring at him.

Alex sighed as he put the car in neutral and pulled the emergency brake before turning the car off. "Okay, folks, end of the line," he said, opening the car and getting out.

Kira quickly got out and walked to the trunk, just like Alex. He watched as Alex opened it and pulled out a second bag. "Kira, hang on."

Kira waited patiently as their friends got out and collected their things before heading for the lift. Alex closed the trunk and nudged him as he walked past.

"If ZAFT wins, which is the more likely outcome, how long before they set their sights on places like Heliopolis, or Liteiria, which is also fairly close to us?" He asked softly, which made Kira pause.

"But if they do-"

"And in the unlikely scenario that the Earth Forces achieve victory, do you think reason will win the day?" Alex kept going. "You're not as up to date on current affairs as you think. There are hardliners on both sides, Kira. Unfortunately, folks who want true peace aren't going to get it unless they fight for it. And they'd rather stay on the sidelines at a location like this than attempt that."

"And now you're saying we're cowards," Kira replied, frowning.

Alex shook his head and chuckled. "No, Kira. But if we got attacked and all you wanted to do was run and hide-" he shrugged his shoulders. "Well, then I would call you a coward. But I don't think you'd do that."

Kira looked at him, surprised. "You don't?"

"Why do you think, when we came here years ago, I got you enrolled in my krav maga class?" Alex asked. "It's simple enough to learn, designed for defense, although it is incredibly brutal. And even though this is a neutral colony, like I said, it could change in an instant. The classes were to help you grow a spine. And you did."

They finally reached the lift and Alex swiped his pass card without even looking.

"You guys need to lighten up," Tolle said, grinning.

"Kira's parents are the ones worried," Alex replied, throwing his arms to the side. "You'd think they'd trust me when I tell them everything's fine," he explained. The door to the lift slid open and he motioned for everyone to get in.

When everyone was in, Alex hit the button for the top floor and the lift moved.

"Hey, Tolle," Alex said, looking at Kira's fellow classmate. "You and Miriallia tie the knot yet?"

Miriallia went beet red and Tolle seemed to freeze.

"Aw, what's the matter?" Alex teased. "I thought you said I should lighten up. This definitely seems to be a more calming subject than the war," he said, crossing his arms with a smirk on his face.

"Okay, okay, back off," Tolle said quickly. "Sorry."

Alex patted him on the shoulder once. "It's all good. Just watch your back. I'm a pretty mean chess player. You hit me, I annihilate you."

The lift finally stopped, and Alex moved past them all, walking pretty quickly, much to everyone's surprise.

"What's your rush?" Kira asked, barely keeping up.

Alex looked at him as he opened the door. "I need to check something, and it's pretty time sensitive," he said, and walked in.

It seemed like your average tech room. There were computers, desks, chairs, but there was also some kind of power suit. It was bulky, and big, and had several wires attached to its back. Alex walked up to it and stared long and hard.

"Still enamored with that unit, Alex?" Miriallia teased. "You want us to get you two a separate room?"

"Ha ha," Alex said, but he wasn't angry with the comment. He put the backpack on the chair next to him and opened it. As he rummaged around for what he was looking for, another student peered over another of the computers.

"Kira, Alex! Didn't think you'd be here so quickly," he said, adjusting the glasses he wore. He wore a light red jacket over his shirt, and his glasses were slightly tinted. His light brown hair seemed a bit disheveled, but he seemed happy to see them.

"What did you expect, with Alex driving?" Tolle asked, gesturing towards their friend.

Alex just grunted as he finally found the disc he was looking for and inserted it into the drive. He quickly booted it up and pulled up a secondary file just so he could quickly switch between the two if his friends became curious in what he was doing.

Kira went over to join Sai, but stopped for a second as he noticed the figure standing next to the door. Whoever it was, seemed quite content standing off to the side. Arms crossed over his chest, the new arrival had a trench coat and a hat covering most of his features. Kira only caught the amethyst eyes and blonde hair before Sai called him over again. The stranger turned his attention to Alex, narrowing his eyes as he watched the young man type furiously.

Tolle went over to his classmate Kuzzey Buskirk, who was also in their group. "Who's that?" He asked quietly.

"Oh, that's the professor's guest, I guess. He was told to wait here," Kuzzey replied. Kuzzey seemed genuinely bored, pulling the hood of his sweater over his head as he typed.

The "guest" heard this, but kept looking at Alex.

Alex heard this as well, and he was interested, but he was focusing on the files in front of him. Something wasn't adding up. Ever since Kaohsiung was listed as a potential target for invasion, the workload he and the other students here had to endure increased dramatically. Normally, he would attribute it to nerves which the teachers channeled into lessons. But Kato's class was especially intriguing.

Introductory lessons on AMBAC systems, basic theories and applications on OS builds, thruster and maneuverability notes. The list went on. Alex grimaced and ran a hand over his mouth, rubbing his chin in thought. "What the hell are you up to, Kato?"

He quickly started copying the files and as he did, opened up a chat.

AK: We might have a problem. Looks like Kato may have been, and might still be, helping the Alliance with mobile suit design and application processes. While not unexpected from the Alliance, depending how far along in the process they are, Heliopolis may soon be on ZAFT's radar. I need to know if there's anything out of the ordinary on your end. My resources here are limited, and the plan is nowhere near ready for execution at this time. If Kato's idiocy leads ZAFT to poke around, they may choose to involve themselves here, heavily. Heliopolis is not ready for that, and neither am I.

He waited for several minutes, as he closed up the files and pulled the disc out. He was just about to shut the unit down, when a message came in.

JD: That is a troublesome thought. I'll head out your way immediately. With Kaohsiung overtaken, I should easily be able to get out there without anyone getting suspicious. I'll say we're heading out for support, should the troops require it. Be careful. I mean it. Word is RC is out there near you. Dunno if that's true, but there was a flurry of activity here a while back. Heard two ships got dispatched. If it's him, we'll know soon enough.

Alex was both relieved and shocked. If they'd sent someone here, and if it was the someone he was thinking of, things definitely wouldn't stay quiet for long. He shut the computer down and unplugged it.

"Oh, by the way, have you seen the professor?" Kira asked Kuzzey.

Alex looked up, waiting for the reply.

"He didn't come in this morning," Kuzzey replied, holding his hands up. "I was surprised."

Kato never misses a day, Alex thought. He was one of those teachers who lived for the job. Only way he wasn't coming in was if he was sick. Or dead.

"He handed me this, though," Sai said, holding up a disc. Kira took it as Alex stood up. "What is it?" Sai asked. "Something for Morgenroete?"

"Nothing special," Kira laughed. "Just improvements on the frame setup module. A simple program analysis." He shrugged.

Alex suddenly felt a chill up his spine, and he looked around. I hate that feeling, he thought. Last time I felt that…

Tolle suddenly grabbed Kira from behind, his arm around his neck. "Ask about the letter!" He said sharply, grinning.

Sai adjusted his glasses, puzzled. "What letter?"

"It's-it's nothing!" Kira rasped, waving his arm.

"It is not!" Tolle replied.

Alex quickly rushed over and kicked Tolle's left leg out from under him. Tolle cried out and fell to the ground as Alex grabbed Kira by the arm pulled him up, angling his own body for counterweight. "What are you, ten?!" He yelled at Tolle, straightening Kira's now ruffled shirt.

"Would you two stop this?" Miriallia asked, walking up to them. Alex glared at Tolle, who smiled sheepishly. "Honestly, you two."

"He started it," Alex said, pointing at Tolle. He noticed the door handle turning and walked over as someone was now banging on the door. "And now you've attracted whoever is out there," he said. "Tolle, if we get in trouble, Tolle, you're getting kicked out."

Alex opened the door, and the first thing he noticed was the glare. The second thing he noticed was the face as a whole. Alex smirked. Who'd have thought she'd be here, of all people? "Sorry 'bout that, the kids had a little spat," he said, leaning against the door, crossing his arms as he did so. "I took care of it."

"It sounded like fighting," the guest said, frowning.

"I'm sure it did, miss," he said, surprising her. "But it's nothing. And you don't look like the kind of person who would…. interfere in a fight, am I wrong?" Alex asked, deep in thought. She went red in the face again, and Alex knew his suspicions were right. Cagalli Yula Attha, he thought. What is the daughter of ORB's leader doing here?

He jerked suddenly as his portable communicator went off. "Excuse me," he said to Cagalli, and turned around, pulling out the small device. He went pale as he read the message.

ZAFT incoming. Mobile suits dispatched. Advise escape and evasion.

"W cholere," he muttered. He looked at his friends, who were bickering among themselves again. "Guys!"

They group looked at him just as the colony shook violently. Alex grabbed Cagalli and shook his head as she tried to wrestle away.

"What is this?" Miriallia asked, afraid.

"Meteors?" Sai asked.

"Worse than that, Sai," Alex said, moving towards the door. "We'd have gotten a warning if it was that." He grabbed his bag and looked at Kira. "Kira," he said. "Get your stuff, all of you. I'm in front, Kira at the back, to make sure we're all out."

Alex quickly left the room and went to the stairs. Already, there were countless people quickly heading downstairs to get out of the building. "What's going on?" He asked, hoping he was wrong.

"I don't know," one person said. Another pushed past him, glaring at them. "It's that damn ZAFT! Mobile suits have entered the colony!"

Cagalli gasped and backed away, turning away and running to the other end of the hallway. Alex cursed as he saw her. "Kira! Don't let her get away!"

Kira ran after her. Alex looked at Sai. "Get them to safety."

"What about you?" Tolle asked.

"I'm going after Kira and the girl," he said sharply.

"But if it really is ZAFT-"

"Just do what I say, all of you!" He yelled at them, shocking them to the core. Alex could be mean, and was a hell of a fighter, but he'd never directed his full anger at them. Not even Tolle when he pulled pranks. "I've lost a lot to this war already," he said, more softly. "I'm not losing the only people I've got left who I care about."

Without another word, he ran down the corridor.

Meanwhile, Kira had finally caught up with the girl. He reached out and grabbed her by the shoulder, nearly knocking her over. She whirled and punched him square in the jaw. "Let go of me! I can take care of myself!" She yelled.

"I'm not disputing that," Kira groaned, clutching his jaw. "But there's no use, going that way!"

The corridor behind them suddenly blew, and they saw a figure slam into the wall from the force of the explosion. They ran over to help the victim, who they hoped was still alive.

"Alex?" Kira asked, shocked. He reached down and helped him up. Cagalli came over to the other side and helped him up.

"Yup," Alex groaned, clutching his side. A piece of shrapnel had struck him, and blood was already seeping through his shirt. Kira put an arm around him and Cagalli grabbed his left arm and put it over her shoulder, now heading back the way they came. "The others okay?" Alex asked, wincing.

"I don't know," Kira said. "I rushed after you. They were following the others when I left."

Alex nodded. "Good. Oh, by the way, Kira, meet Cagalli Yula Attha, daughter of Uzumi Nara Attha, the lion of Orb. Miss Attha, meet Kira Yamato, my friend and a coordinator. And I'm Aleksander Kolodziej."

"You're the Blue Blaze!" Cagalli blurted, nearly letting go of him.

"I was," Alex admitted. "I came here to get away from the war. So much for that."

"The Blue Blaze?" Kira asked, grunting as he pulled Alex along. "Who's that?"

"You really don't know?!" Cagalli said sharply.

"To be fair, Miss Attha, Kira's not a soldier," Alex said. He motioned ahead. "Is that what's left of the tech shop?"

Cagalli and Kira pulled him as he limped with one leg so as not to increase the bleeding. They entered the room, which actually was in good shape. A few items had been knocked down, but nothing seemed damaged.

"I need a blow torch," he said, pulling his backpack over and opening it.

"For what?" Cagalli asked, her eyes widening as he pulled out a ZAFT issued combat knife.

He groaned and leaned back, lifting his shirt up. Cagalli noticed the wound on his side. She knew he was hurt, obviously, but didn't know how bad it was. "Just get it for me," he said, tossing the bloody shirt aside. Kira was already looking for one, running through the lab as quickly as he could.

Cagalli finally found one by the back wall, right next to the fire extinguisher. She brought it over to him as Alex whistled at Kira. He came back over and Alex handed him the knife. "Wash it, quickly."

Kira followed his instruction as Cagalli looked at him. "Shouldn't you call your friends and tell them not to kill you?" She asked sarcastically.

"I'm not ZAFT," Alex said, groaning. "I left some time ago. I just had enough. And blowing up mobile armors that posed no threat to me felt wrong."

Kira brought the knife over and handed it to Alex. "Thanks, bracie," Alex said, smiling at him. He motioned for Cagalli to look behind her. "Grab those goggles."

Cagalli grabbed three pairs and put one on after handing them to Kira and Alex. Alex hobbled away from them, then turned on the blowtorch. He set it to its highest setting, the flame bright blue. He held the unit with one hand and carefully brought the knife closer to the flame. Not too close. He didn't want to melt it, after all. After a few seconds, he switched it off and took a deep breath.

"What now?" Kira asked.

Alex answered by pressing the blade into his side. Kira and Cagalli visibly jumped as they saw him do that. Alex screamed in pain and rage, and after a few seconds, threw the knife into the sink before falling to the floor. He lay on his side, the wound now cauterized. Kira grabbed a rag and wiped the blood running down his stomach.

"Now what?" Cagalli asked.

Alex held up a hand. "Gimme a sec, will you?"

"We may not have a second, Alex," Kira said softly.

"True," Alex said, groaning. He pulled himself up and Cagalli grabbed his arms and helped him to his feet. "Okay, let's find out what the fuss is about." I have to hurry, he thought. Kato. I have to find Kato. This is getting out of hand.

The three set out, and headed for the nearest exit. "Service tunnel," Alex said. "Leads right to the warehouse district. There's shelters there."

Kira nodded and the three set off. It was faster than it was before. Alex, despite being in tremendous pain, was doing his best to lead the way. He found the door to the service tunnel and tried to open it, but it was locked. "Hand me the gun in my bag, Kira."

Kira nodded and opened the bag, rummaging through it. He pulled out the weapon, a Luger P08. It was old, but Alex had taken pristine care of it over the years.

"Does that thing even work?" Cagalli asked.

"You could always find out the hard way," Alex said, smirking.

Cagalli frowned. "I was just asking."

Alex nodded. "It works. A family heirloom. My ancestor brought this home after the second World War. It's been passed down ever since."

"You're German?" Cagalli asked.

"No. Polish ancestry," Alex said, setting the gun aside and pulling out the holster, quickly putting it on his waist. He then holstered the gun after checking the clip. "Okay, let's see if we can find out why ZAFT attacked us."

He walked forward, Cagalli and Kira behind him. As they approached the end of the tunnel, the sounds of gunfire got louder. Just as they exited, an explosion went off, and they saw a cargo truck launch into the sky before landing on another, destroying both instantly.

"You don't see that every day," Kira said.

Alex chuckled. "True. Same goes for those," he said, pointing directly ahead. There, on the ground, secured within the transport trucks, were two mobile suits. Both were gray, but unlike the ZAFT units, these were not mono-eyed machines with smooth armor plating. These were more angular, and their heads, in addition to the dual visual sensors on the head, sported V-shaped antennas.

"I knew it," Cagalli choked out, falling to her knees. "The Earth Forces new mobile weapons. Father, I knew you betrayed us all!"

Her cry attracted the attention of an Earth forces officer, who turned and fired at them. Alex managed to pull her and Kira back as the shot barely missed them, hitting the railing they were holding onto.

"Easy, sweetheart," he said, holding her shoulder. "This may not be as simple as that." He pulled her up and motioned for the two of them to follow them. "Come on, I think I know what happened."

The three of them quickly ran to the stairwell that led into the warehouse below. Alex quickly descended, not checking to see how Kira and Cagalli were faring. The pain in his side was still there, but it wasn't getting worse, at least.

He noticed the Earth forces were now pinned, and several ZAFT soldiers were moving in. But they didn't noticed Alex or his two companions. He looked at Kira. "See that mobile suit?" He asked, pointing at the closest of the two prototypes.

"Yeah?" Kira asked.

"You're gonna take it," Alex told him, shocking him and Cagalli.


"No buts, Kira," Alex said. "If we're going to fight for Heliopolis, we need to start now. Take these prototypes from them, we do three things," Alex said, holding up three fingers. "We stop ZAFT from getting these prototypes. Second, we stop the Earth Forces from using them against the PLANTs. And third, we can use them to keep Heliopolis safe. Our own private militia."

"Is that smart?" Cagalli asked.

"Better than the Alliance keeping them," Alex said. "And eventually ORB will get pulled into this, too."

"So, what's the plan?" Kira asked. He didn't want to fight, but if it was the only way to save Heliopolis.

"You take one unit, I take the other," Alex explained. "And we hold Heliopolis until my reinforcements arrive."

"That sounds simple enough, but-hey, what do you mean, your reinforcements?!" He asked, shocked by this news.

"You are ZAFT, aren't you?" Cagalli asked.

"No, I'm not!" Alex screamed at her. "And neither are the guys I've got coming here. They were my ticket off Heliopolis, but I'm gonna have to change our mission, now."

"To what?" Kira asked.

"Protecting Heliopolis," Alex said. "The Earth forces aren't the only ones who've been busy with mobile suit projects. We're wasting time," he said, shaking his head. "Hurry up. Princess, you're with me."

Cagalli fumed at the term he used, but Alex paid her no mind. "Kira, go. I'll grab the other unit. Then we'll chat with the Earth forces here after cleanup."

He grabbed Cagalli and pulled her away before Kira could say anything. Kira frowned and ran across the catwalk, looking down at the warzone engulfing his home. He noticed a ZAFT soldier taking a position behind the Earth forces, taking aim. "Behind you!" He yelled, hoping it was enough.

One of the officers must have heard, because she dropped and turned around just as the ZAFT trooper fired. The bullets missed, and Earth forces fired a burst from her rifle, hitting him right in the chest. She pushed her brown hair out of her face and looked up at him. "Get down here!"

"I'm heading towards the shelter, don't worry!" He said, not wanting to announce he was taking the other prototype.

"There's only a door left there!" She replied, and Kira fell over as the side of the building behind him blew.

On the other end of the facility, Alex was calmly walking through the wreckage, his gun out. As a group of ZAFT soldiers rounded the corner, Alex quickly brought up his gun. He fired slowly as he kept walking towards them. One of the rounds went clean through the visor, and the man's head snapped back, blood smearing the interior of the visor. When the gun came up empty, Alex broke into a run, holstering it as he body slammed the next soldier.

The man responded by trying to club Alex with his rifle. Alex grinned and slammed his elbow into the side of the gun, knocking it away. He delivered a quick neck chop which made the ZAFT soldier back away, then Alex kicked him in the groin hard. When he doubled over, Alex pulled out his knife and brought it down right onto his spine. The body jerked suddenly and fell to the ground. Alex knelt down and pressed a hand to his neck, checking for a pulse. There was one. He pulled out the knife and quickly moved forward as the second trooper finally reloaded. Alex shot his arm out, the knife flying at him. It struck the shoulder, and the soldier fired wildly, screaming. Alex ran forward and dropped onto the ground, sliding towards an abandoned rifle. He grabbed it and quickly swung up, firing another short burst. The invader's body jerked upwards and fell to the ground.

Alex sighed and stood up, looking around. When he looked past the prototype he was supposed to steal, he saw that a soldier had gotten past him and was moving towards Kira and the prototype he was supposed to grab. "Ah, shit!" He yelled, running back.

Kira was shocked when the Earth forces officer took a round to her shoulder. He ran to her and helped her up, keeping a hand pressed to her wound. "It'll be okay," he said. He looked up as the trooper rushed at him, and he caught a glimpse of his eyes. "Athrun?!" He yelled, shocked.

The ZAFT soldier stopped dead in his tracks, shocked at who he saw. "Kira?!"

The two stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity. The Alliance officer raised her weapon and Athrun jumped back. Then the world went sideways.

Alex tackled the soldier.

"Don't! It's Athrun!" Kira yelled.

Alex froze as Athrun rolled away and assumed a defensive position. He looked at Alex, once again at a loss for words.

"You ZAFT now, bracie?" Alex asked, his voice filled venom. "killing civilians is your idea of having fun?"

"No, Alex, we're here because the Earth forces-"

He was cut off as Alex rushed him, throwing a punch right at his helmet. Athrun sidestepped and responded with a low kick that connected with Alex's ankle. Alex cried out and nearly lost his balance, but spun quickly, launching his right foot straight at Athrun's chest. "Always an excuse for ZAFT, isn't there?" He snarled. "A neutral colony? And you never bothered to question it. You just followed orders, and here you are?!"

Athrun was shocked as the words cut right to his heart. Alex took his stunned silence and rushed forward. Athrun backpedaled, going on the defensive as Alex threw punch after punch at him.

"Alex, enough! We have to get out of here!" Kira yelled. Alex stopped and jumped back as the Earth forces officer got her bearings back and fired at Athrun. The young man retreated and Alex stood there, breathing hard. His fists were still clenched, his body shaking with fury. He turned around and walked back towards Kira.

"You two know that soldier?" The woman asked.

"Oh, yeah," Alex said. He pointed a thumb behind him. "That was my cousin, Athrun Zala."

"You-you're a-"

"Yeah, a coordinator," Alex said before she could continue. "Kira, get her in the mobile suit and start it up. I'll rush over to the other one and-"

He stopped as he heard a loud creaking noise, followed by a massive crash. He turned around and saw that Athrun had gotten the prototype up and running. "Oh, joy," he said sarcastically. He watched as the gray machine stood up. He looked at Kira. "Kira! Now!"

The Earth forces officer heard him and pushed him into the cockpit before jumping in after him. The hatch closed as Alex rushed forward. "Hey, wait a minute!"

The mobile suit lurched and Alex groaned as he rocked from side to side, trying to keep his balance. He jumped off, landing on top of a supply truck. He groaned and rolled over onto his back. He winced as he pulled his head up a bit to look at the machine. It pushed itself off the ground, its legs bending in as it stood up for the first time.

When the machine was fully standing, the warehouse behind them exploded as the gas main blew. Alex rolled off the side and grabbed the edge, hoping the debris missed him.

War had officially reached Heliopolis.

Author's Note: So begins my latest Cosmic Era tale. This is my latest attempt at the Gundam SEED AU. As for the long absence, I basically burned myself out writing multiple stories simultaneously. I've tried to write several gundam stories over the years, ranging from Universal Century, to Cosmic Era, and even an all-original universe story. That's not including original works that I started with a friend that slowly deteriorated even though we had some great ideas. And then I just never had time. But Gundam SEED still bugged me, in the sense that I felt I never managed to write the story I wanted to. I was too afraid to really alter anything from SEED canon. This will not be the case here. The story will drastically change within the next few chapters, which is why it will take me a while to write this. There will be new gundam units in this story, but I'm still working on them. I personally think they're worse than the Ark's Flight units. I'm considering just bringing some of those units back. In addition to Alex, Zero and the other Numbers will be back, too, but I have to figure out where and when the best time to bring them in is. Reviews are welcome, I've been out of this for a while, so any suggestions are welcome.