It had taken him about a year, to realize where he was. To realize who he was.
And yeah, okay, in hindsight, the name alone should have been enough to give it away, because how many people had the name Judau Ashta anyways? But, in his defense,Judau sounded a lot like Judas to the not-yet-at-peak-operating-standards ears of a baby, and he hadn't been too concerned with figuring out where he was as opposed to when he was- his home looked modern enough, no matter how poverty-stricken the area seemed to be- or concerned at all, really.
He'd been a baby. Sue him. And babies, especially newborn ones, did not tend to care for the eighteen-odd years worth of memories sleeping in their subconscious. Three-month year babies did though, apparently, judging from the day he'd gained said memories back. And even then, he'd still been a baby; unable to do much except crawl, at least, toddle around, at most, and gurgle for his parents and/or food.
Which he had gradually come around to. It was just a lot of sleeping, really, and given what he remembered from his old life's sleeping schedule, it was a welcome change.
Then, one day, his parents had taken him outside, and he had looked up.
Judau hadn't been able to see the sky. Not because of his eyesight, but because there wasn't one.
It hadn't taken too long for the pieces to fall into place. No sky, but a city beyond the clouds. Talks of colonies, of sides, of an Earth Federation all too horrifyingly familiar to him.
The concept of rebirth was not a new one to him, though he had never subscribed to it in his last life, with his religious focus lying elsewhere. He'd read of scenarios, of course, who hadn't come across one at least once? Perhaps, had he been born somewhere else, he might have been excited at his second.
But, Judau had been born in the Universal Century, and his memories told him they were doomed.
(The Turn A loomed in his dreams, distant and dreadful.)
(He didn't know nearly enough about it, only it's name and it's place in the timeline, but he knew enough to know that it would be their end.)
And all he could fucking do was watch. Watch, as things got worse for the Colonies. Watch, as Zeon Zum Deikun's rhetoric began to spread further and further. Watch Munzo transformed into the Principality, a guiding light for Spacenoid independence. Watch, as the One Year War began and snuffed that light out under a fog of corruption, decadence, and evil.
Judau had been only been five, when the war had begun, but he was old enough where it mattered to understand what was happening around him. Old enough to remember his father, hugging him goodbye, golden wings splayed proudly on a green uniform. Old enough to realize what that meant, and to realize that he would not come back. Old enough to appreciate the small mercy that Shangri-la never saw any fighting, despite being so close to Side 1. Old enough to be racked with guilt whenever their mother forwent her meal to keep both Leina and him fed, during the rationing.
(Somewhere, in the Earth's Sphere, half of humanity had perished. Somewhere, in the Earth's Sphere, a Newtype girl torn between two loyalties burned in a beam. Somewhere, in the solar system, a Zeon soldier died fighting a doom that had already been defeated. Somewhere, in the Earth's Sphere the very idea of Spacenoid independence took the first of its last, dying breaths.)
Judau had been six, when it had ended.
It hurt. Six years, he had sat on information that could have save billions, both on Earth and in space, and the guilt had nearly torn him apart. But no sane adult would take the word of a six-year old as truth, so all he had been able to do was watch and wait and stew.
Then, mom had left. "I'll be back as soon as I can," she had said, and God, how Judau had wanted to believe it no matter what the memories said. He had held on to that hope for one year, then another, then another…
By the time Judau had turned twelve, he had stopped hoping.
He could only lie to his sister for so long, after all.
And then things had gotten worse. And then came fucking Delaz and Operation Stardust, giving birth to the Federation's new boot-at-the-neck against the colonies. Shangri-la continued to deteriorate, the funds that could have been used to reinvigorate his slum-of-a neighborhood spent elsewhere, either by the elites on Earth or on the Titans. Then the Gryps War erupted into being, plunging the Earth's Sphere back into open conflict again, yet another act in the farce that was the first hundred years of the Universal Century.
But, Judau wasn't just watching anymore, no. He hadn't spent the last decade of his life just watching, either, no. He did the only thing he could do.
Fourteen years was a long time for a child to stew in useless frustration and anger, and it did little but fuel his strive to see his plans through.
The Federation had to go, that much was clear. Reduced in scope, at least, curtailed to the Earth. AEUG had been a good idea, but it run it's course and had practically ceased to exist in any meaningful capacity after Gryps, and what had survived simply returned to the damned Federation, content with the destruction of the Titans. There was no saving the Principality, either- that had been dead the moment Ghiren had gained control, long before A Baoa Qu.
But, Zeon itself… the Zeon that stood for true Spacenoid self-autonomy, the Zeon that had been before the war, their guiding light, and the Zeon that had managed to survive afterwards…
The Zeon that was buried in the depths of Axis, in Majahara's grave…
That was still something worth saving.
Some would call him crazy. A lot of people, actually. Even more would curse him, undoubtedly, once he made the defection- and, a part of Judau acknowledged that he could kiss all his former Federation-aligned friendships goodbye. It was not something he took pride in, or something he wanted to think about, at all.
But, the Universal Century was fucked regardless, if he went down the path canon had in store for him. The Federation never,ever learned from its mistakes, content to return to the status quo each time Zeon fell- and, by the time Zeon had switched from less destructive tactics to something more capable of bringing about the independence they had once strived for, it had been far too late.
Judau didn't know what kind of higher-powers permeated this specific universe, and he didn't care. Not for the Newtype Ladies in the Sky, not for the lingering ghost of Lalah, and not for anything that had let the Earth's Sphere degrade as much as it had.
If I'm going to save the Earth's Sphere… if I'm gonna build a place where Leina can go to school in peace and be happy… there's only one person who can make that a reality.
Not the Federation. Not again. They'd had chance after chance, and nothing had ever changed.
There was only one place left to go. Their last chance, their best chance, at saving the future from themselves. Their best chance for a Space free from the whims of gravity.
Andyeah, maybe he had fallen a bit too far down the Zeonic rhetoric, but he had spent the last decade and a half living on and in a prime example of Federation negligence and apathy, barely making enough to ensure Leina could go to school even with mom's monthly stipend, and his memories had shown him more than enough to annihilate what little faith he had in the Federation to change for the better. Any hope of that died with the rest of the AEUG.
Judau refused to fight for the Federation's future, for it was not a future where Leina could live unburdened by gravity.
(And, at this point, everything he did was for her.)
Sure, he could just do what he was supposed to- join the AEUG remnants, then the Federation. Defeat Axis. Leave for Jupiter with Leina, and never come back.
But he didn't want that. Not for him, and not for his sister. She deserved better than to live in a ship for the rest of her days. She deserved the skies of Shangri-la and a home that actually feels like one, a family of her own! Leina deserved to go to an uptown school, to have a wardrobe that wasn't mostly of his mom's hand-me-downs, to not worry about what he did for money.
What good older brother wouldn't want those things for their sisters?
The canon path of ZZ wouldn't give them that.
But Judau's planmight, and that was a risk he was very much willing to take.
It would take everything he had. Every bit of wile and wit, and every drop of knowledge he could wring… but if it was for his little sister's sake?
There were frighteningly few things in the world that Judau wouldn't do for her.
(Plus, well, it's not like he wasn't getting something out of it. Someone out of it.)
And, in the depths of his mind, on the eve of the Argama's arrival to Shangri-la, four words that would shape the future of the Universal Century came to Judau's mind, and the boy grinned in his sleep.
I can fix her.
A/N: Alright, here me out.
The intrusive thoughts won out, lads. That's my excuse for this.
The thing with my plotbunnies is that, when they pop into existence, they hound me until I do something with them. And, seeing as Gundam is the newest fandom I've joined as of late, thanks to the Witch from Mercury drawing my attention and the Gundam Unicorn pulling me into UC kicking and screaming, this recently came to mind. And, when it comes to Zeon SI's, there exists one for every iteration of it save Axis, so, why not? ...Yes, I'm something of a Zeke. Yes, I'm also something of a Haman enjoyer. This is probably a natural combintaion of those two.
Q: Why defect?
A: AEUG, by this point, is a done deal. All that's gonna happen is AEUG getting folded back into the Federation, forming Londo Bell... and that's it. And Judau isn't exactly a fan of the Federation. The Argama crew is great, but they won't be able to get what Judau wants.
Q: Why Axis?
A: Haman. For several reasons, the main two being that, through her, I can actually do shit on a high enough level that change will actually mean something in the long run, and because she's the hotest woman that side of the Earth's Sphere.
(I can fix her. Probably.)