Duo was standing in the observation lounge of Peacemillion, gazing through the thick glass canopy. The plasteel pressure doors outside the window were ready to close at a moment's notice, should an attack occur - which was why such a weak-point in the hull had been allowed, to the benefit of crew morale. While walking down the hallways heading for the bridge, Howard saw him standing there. As he entered the observation dome, he knew he had already been detected. Sneaking up on a Gundam pilot was not something easily done - not that there had been made any effort to do so.
"Hey, Duo - what'cha doin' there?"
"Just admiring the view. The stars - everything - looks so peaceful from a distance. Up close, it just turns ugly."
"Yeah," Howard sighed. It took a while before he noticed where Duo's eyes were directed. When he did, he felt troubled.
"Duo, last time I saw you stargazin', you said the moon looked like a graveyard from the colonies - still feel that way?"
"Nah. The graveyard has gotten a whole lot bigger since then. The colonies, Earth, the moon - all have been soaked in blood - innocent blood, perhaps."
"Soldiers are many things, Duo - innocent is not one of 'em." Duo broke his glare at the moon, and faced Howard.
"What makes you say that? Many of the soldiers we... I've killed, were nothing more than puppets, mislead by one evil and cowardly leader or another - most of 'em probably never knew the whole story - or even a bit of it - or how futile their attempts to attack fo stand their ground would be."
"Duo - soldiers have to expect to die. Accepting the possibility - perhaps even certainty - of death, is part of being a soldier. When two soldiers really fight, only one is expected to survive - If you hadn't killed them, they would have killed you."
"Yeah, but if I had gotten killed a long time ago, many lives I took later, would have been spared."
"No, I don't think so - If you pilots hadn't fought, I'd imagine the bloodshed would have been much greater - and consisting mostly of the blood of civilians, rather than that of soldiers."
"I guess... Still, I don't like it - all this senseless killing."
Howard chuckled, and looked outside at the darkness.
"If that's how you feel, you sure picked a lousy nickname for yourself."
The response was a slightly agitated one.
"Who has ever said the God of Death is actually fond of killing - of senseless slaughter? Perhaps he just wants everybody to die in peace, not in pieces, screaming their guts out as they're blown to smithereens."
"I can't answer that, Duo, I'm not the 'theological' kind - but your sacrifices will lead to something good in the end - believe that, if nothin' else."
They both stared into the cold non-existent mists of space, while glimmers of distant stars, often reflected by the colony clusters, danced across the darkened room.
"If I had told them how useless it would be for them to fight back, do you think they would have surrendered instead of stickin' around 'till the bitter end?"
"Doubt it. Soldiers are 'trained' to follow orders - it takes a brave - or foolish - soldier to violate orders during a battle."
"Still, wish I had tried it, at least once, just..."
Howard placed his hand on Duo's shoulder, silently asking him to face him again.
"Duo, I was just talking to Quatre. He had some of the same thoughts you're having. When he first came to Earth, he did ask his enemies to surrender so they could live - they didn't surrender, or retreat, and he was left with no choice. He asked me if I thought he'd been naive to think they might have surrendered - and if he should have bothered to ask in the first place."
"So... and what did you answer him?"
"I told him somethin' like; 'In wars, shitty stuff happens. People die. Things are destroyed. Places are forever bruised and scarred. Dreams, hopes and illusions are shattered. But despite all of that, life goes on. Perhaps a life in misery, but still; life. To think that someone would act logically about something as valuable as their lives, would be reasonable - but war is anything but reasonable. Weapons do not care who they kill, or even if they kill - they don't even care if they're used. And in wars, most soldiers become mere weapons in the care and control of their commanders. Those on the battlefield fight with their lives at stake, yet there's someone in the background controlling their lives.' Quatre just sighed, and said he hoped more people would fight for what they themselves believed in, instead of what they were told to..."
"Well, we're weapons too, you know..."
"Perhaps - but you're not controlled in the same way - and unlike one of those soulless mobile dolls, you have..."
Howard's mind raced. He felt a need to pick the best word, the most suitable word. Consciousness. Humanity. Goals. Dreams. Hopes. Compassion.
"Life. The opportunity to become something greater than what you already are. The ability to be better than your opponents. That's quite a valuable trait, you know."
"Duo, don't worry. Those you've killed, would probably have died at one battlefield or another later on anyway - few soldiers live long enough to become retired these days. If they had gotten a chance, they'd have killed you without a second thought. Don't cloud your mind with concern for such people - keep your focus on what you want to protect, accomplish and obtain, instead."
With that, Howard left. Duo resumed watching the moon, and everything else out there. While his body remained static, his mind worked on overdrive.
For a brief two years of my life, I had shelter - happiness. At the end of those years, I died - a big part of me, anyway. I cursed the destroyers of my shelter, the bringers of death, then. Have... Have I now become what destroyed me in the first place?