The news is given in person. For the first time in months, the Zabi family is together in their sprawling palace. It seems too large today; cold, empty hallways go endlessly in every direction, to silent rooms and unoccupied chairs. They sit around a table. Of course, not all are present. There is a conspicuous gap - the smallest, least decorated chair sits empty.
Before the stuttering soldier before them can even utter a word, they already know what has happened.
“Garma has fallen in action, fighting the White Base.”
Degwin doesn’t say a word. A parent isn’t supposed to have favourites, but Garma had always held a special place in his heart. The only times he’d regretted his past was when he saw Garma in his military uniform, desperate to impress. Perhaps this is his punishment for the endless lives he’s robbed.
His lips draw into a firm line. This war, which had once seemed so vital, no longer feels so fulfilling. He doubts that his remaining children would agree. The torch has already been passed. Who would listen to the grieving protestations of an old man? Not Gihren. Not Kycilia. Only now - far too late - does he realise the monsters he has inadvertently created.
Kycilia scowls. Garma’s death is nothing more than a chess piece. A strategic pawn that has been swept from the board, forever altering the political battlefield. How she leverages this new development to her advantage is far more important than grieving. She’s certainly not surprised - this was inevitable the moment their delicate younger brother left the nest.
Of course, deep down, she cannot unshackle herself from her memories. Garma’s tears, his head on her lap, as his childish mind failed to comprehend the death of Sasro. His endless questions of when his older brother would return.
Such weakness would never have gone unpunished by the universe. Even so, she finds herself conflicted.
Dozle sobs. No words can describe the anguish tearing him apart. He holds Mineva gently, so gently, her sleeping face blurred through his tears. It’s his fault - he let Garma go to Earth, put himself in danger, and all for what? No rank or medal is worth the agony in his heart. It feels like a thousand knives plunging into him.
As his tears subside, a new feeling blooms. A deep, desperate need to protect, to never let those around him be hurt ever again.
“I won’t let them hurt you, Mineva. You and Zenna - I’ll - I’ll always keep you safe.”
Gihren smirks. He feels no sympathy for his brother, no love. He only feels a weak link removed from the Zeon empire. An opportunity for propaganda, proof of the Federation’s cruelty.
He writes his speech with a smile on his face.