In Cosmic Era 73, two years have passed since the war between the Earth Alliance and ZAFT ended. On Earth, Kira Yamato and Lacus Clyne walk along the shore. At a spaceport, Athrun Zala watches a news report regarding a terrorist bombing of ZAFT’s San Diego military facility by Holy Land, an offshoot of Blue Cosmos. He later boards a shuttle with Cagalli Yula Athha to head for space. At ZAFT’s Armory One PLANT, soldiers Shinn Asuka and Rey Za Burrel conduct an exercise with the Impulse Gundam and ZAKU Phantom. Later, Cagalli and Athrun’s shuttle arrives at Armory One, where preparations are underway for the launch of ZAFT’s new battleship, the Minerva. Cagalli and Athrun (using the pseudonym Alex Dino) then meet with PLANT Supreme Council Chairman Gilbert Durandal to discuss an urgent issue: ZAFT’s military use of technology and human resources that have come their way since the Orb battle. Elsewhere, two ZAFT officers pick up Earth Alliance Extended pilots Sting Oakley, Auel Neider and Stella Loussier. Durandal takes Cagalli and Athrun on a tour of the mobile suit facilities and says that he also believes in the Orb Union’s policies of non-interference, but he adds that such a stance isn’t possible without power. With the help of the ZAFT soldiers, the Extendeds sneak into a mobile suit hangar and mow down all of its personnel with machine gun fire. Stella then hops into the prototype Gaia Gundam, while Sting takes the Chaos Gundam and Auel the Abyss Gundam. A wounded technician manages to set off the alarm just before the Gundams blast their way out of the hangar. The three Gundams begin to attack stationary mobile suits, and ZAFT immediately deploys its own suits to counterattack. Athrun and Cagalli attempt to run to safety, but their path is blocked by the battle. Athrun decides to take action and jumps into the cockpit of a ZAKU Warrior with Cagalli. On the Minerva, Shinn launches in the Core Splendor, followed by the Chest Flyer, Leg Flyer and Sword Silhouette Flyer. Athrun immediately comes under attack from Stella, but he dodges and rams into her. Stella attacks with a beam saber, but Athrun blocks with his shield and beam tomahawk. Sting attacks from the back and slices off the ZAKU Warrior’s left arm, but he then is attacked from above by Shinn’s Core Splendor. The four parts then combine to form the Sword Impulse Gundam, and Shinn asks them if they’re trying to start another war. Shinn uses his beam rifle and anti-ship swords to take on both Sting and Stella. The Minerva‘s first officer, Arthur Trine, reminds Shinn that he’s supposed to capture the Gundams, but Shinn says he doesn’t know if he can take them all on. Durandal heads to the Minerva and asks Captain Talia Gladys for a situation report. In space, the cloaked battleship Girty Lue opens fire on ZAFT ships docked at Armory One, while several Dagger Ls break into the spaceport.
The three Gundams team up against Shinn, and Athrun rams into Auel. Auel fires chest cannon at the ZAKU Warrior, which slams it into a building and knocks Cagalli unconscious. Rey joins the battle in his ZAKU Phantom, along with Lunamaria Hawke in her ZAKU Warrior. As the three Gundams begin to retreat, Shinn calls the Minerva to send out the Force Silhouette. Lunamaria’s damaged ZAKU is unable to give chase, and Shinn continues to attack. One of his swords is destroyed while fighting Sting, and he switches to the Force Silhouette in midair for increased mobility. Sting blasts a hole in the PLANT’s hull, and the Gundams fly out of it with Shinn and Rey in close pursuit. Athrun lands his damaged ZAKU inside the Minerva, and Lunamaria holds them at gunpoint. Talia doesn’t want to lose the Impulse Gundam as well and orders the Minerva to launch. The three Gundams dock inside the Girty Lue, and Shinn and Rey come under attack from Neo Roanoke’s mobile armor Exus. Neo and Rey sense each other’s presence, and Rey tells Shinn that Neo is no ordinary enemy. After launching retreat signals, the Minerva opens fire on the Girty Lue. Neo returns to the Girty Lue and orders Captain Ian Lee to retreat. The Girty Lue then escapes by ejecting two large fuel canisters, which explode in close proximity to the Minerva. Elsewhere, a group of GINN High Maneuver Type II mobile suits led by Sato attach dozens of flare motors to the ruins of Junius Seven, causing the large PLANT remnant to begin moving. A ZAFT monitoring station detects the change and concludes that Junius Seven is on a direct collision course with Earth. Durandal is informed and in turn tells Cagalli that he’s sending the Minerva to attempt to stop Junius Seven. On Earth, Lord Djibril, leader of the secret organization Logos, discusses the implications of Junius Seven with other members. In the crew lounge, Shinn, Rey, Lunamaria, Meyrin, Vino Dupre and Yolant Kent discuss the problem of Junius Seven and how to deal with it. Yolant shrugs it off and says that if Earth is destroyed it might make things easier for the PLANTs. Cagalli hears this while walking by and comes into the lounge to yell at Yolant. Athrun tries to stop her, but she continues on and asks if this is how everyone in ZAFT thinks even after the last war. Shinn interrupts and tells Cagalli that she can’t even see Yolant isn’t being serious. Rey tells Shinn to watch what he says, and he explains that Shinn is an Orb immigrant. Shinn yells at Cagalli and says that his entire family was killed because of the ideals of the Athha family. He also tells her that she knows nothing and storms out of the lounge. In their quarters, Athrun brings Cagalli a drink and tells her to forget about what Shinn said. She thinks about the death of her father and says that he suffered from his own decisions as well. In his quarters, Shinn looks at pictures of his family on his sister Maya’s cell phone. Later, Athrun runs into Lunamaria in a corridor, and when she asks him how Cagalli is, he tells her that Cagalli lost family and friends in the last war too. On the bridge, Athrun asks Talia to lend him a mobile suit because he wants to help with Junius Seven, but she says she can’t just give a suit to a foreign civilian. Durandal decides that they can lend a a mobile suit to Alex Dino, or rather, Athrun Zala.
In space, a group of GuAIZ Rs led by Dearka Elsman’s Gunner ZAKU Warrior approach Junius Seven with meteor breakers. As soon as they land, they come under attack from Sato’s GINNs. Yzak Joule is informed of the attack, and the attacking GINNs have no IFF code. Talia is informed that in addition to mobile suits, they’ve also picked up the Girty Lue near Junius Seven. Shinn launches in the Core Splendor, followed by Rey’s Blaze ZAKU Phantom, Lunamaria’s Gunner ZAKU Warrior and Athrun’s Blaze ZAKU Warrior. The Voltaire deploys beam rifles for the GuAIZ Rs, and Yzak launches in his Slash ZAKU Phantom. Durandal tells Talia to attempt contact with the Girty Lue and explain that they’re trying to stop Junius Seven from falling on Earth. Yzak arrives at the battlefield and tells the work crews to hurry with the demolition because they’re running out of time. Suddenly, the three Gundams arrive and begin attacking the ZAFT forces. The Minerva team arrives, and Shinn attacks Auel while Lunamaria takes on Stella. Athrun protects one of the demolition crews and disables several attacking GINNs as well as Sting. The GuAIZ Rs manage to activate the meteor breakers, which split Junius Seven in two. However, while the rear section slows down, the front section continues on a collision course with Earth. Athrun says there’s still work to be done, and both Dearka and Yzak are surprised he’s there. Athrun grabs on to a meteor breaker and comes under attack from several GINNs, which Dearka and Yzak easily dispatch. Auel joins the attack, but Yzak slashes off one of his legs, as well as Sting’s shield and beam rifle. Shinn is momentarily amazed by the skills of veterans from the last war. The Girty Lue fires a retreat signal, and Talia surmises that it’s probably because they don’t want to get caught in Earth’s gravity. Talia asks Durandal to transfer to the Voltaire because she intends to enter the atmosphere and use the Tannhauser cannon to continue to break apart Junius Seven. The demolition crews manage to break away another piece, but a large chunk is still heading for Earth. Shinn spots Athrun with a meteor breaker and tells him that they’ve been ordered to return, but Athrun wants to stay a bit longer. Shinn begins to assist Athrun, but they suddenly come under attack from Sato and two other pilots. Sato tells Athrun and Shinn that they leave in a dream world because Siegel Clyne’s successors have weakened ZAFT. He adds that the only true path for Coordinators is the one set out by Patrick Zala. Shinn destroys an attacking GINN, and the wreckage hits a meteor breaker, causing it to begin drilling. Sato latches on to Athrun’s ZAKU, so Shinn cuts off its leg. As Shinn and Athrun escape, Sato’s GINN crashes and explodes, causing the remaining chunk to break again. Athrun and Shinn get sucked into the atmosphere, and the Minerva fires its Tannhauser cannon at the remaining chunk of Junius Seven.
In the shelter below Reverend Malchio’s orphanage, Lacus sings to comfort the children. Although the last chunk was destroyed, small fragments crash all over the world, destroying parts of Rome, Vatican City, Athens, Lhasa and more. Other fragments crash into the ocean, creating huge tidal waves that devastate coastal cities. Shinn brings Athrun’s damaged ZAKU back to the Minerva, which makes a hard landing in the ocean. The damaged Minerva sails to Orb’s Onogoro Island, where Cagalli is greeted by Yuna Roma Seiran and his father, Unato Ema. At a meeting, Cagalli is informed that the rest of the cabinet is considering a treaty with the Atlantic Federation. Djibril shows his colleagues pictures of the GINNs at Junius Seven, and he says there’s not a person in the world who would forgive Coordinators after this. As Athrun drives along the coast, he stops when he spots Kira and Lacus on the beach with the children. He tells Kira about what Sato said to him in space. He then reminds Kira of what he said in the last war, that they should search together for the answer to the question of what they’re fighting for. Athrun says he still hasn’t found that answer, and he intends to return to the PLANTs. On the Minerva, Lunamaria asks Shinn why he didn’t go on shore leave with the others, and he tells her that he hates Orb and wonders what’s so great about it. Athrun gives Cagalli a ring and kisses her before flying off. Shinn visits an Orb war memorial and is reminded of the way his parents and his sister Mayu were killed in an explosion. He then spots Kira by a memorial stone and speaks with him briefly. Kira thinks it’s a shame that the flowers will be wiped out by crashing waves, and Shinn thinks it means that the flowers can’t be fooled because they know people will come and wipe them out, no matter how beautiful they are. Lacus brings flowers to lay at the marker, and Shinn says he didn’t mean anything before walking off. Cagalli is informed that the Earth Alliance has given ZAFT an ultimatum: meet a list of demands, or be declared the enemy of humanity. In space, a large scale mobile suit battle begins between ZAFT and the Alliance. Yzak and Dearka launch in their ZAKUs, and Heine Westenfluss destroys a battleship. A GINN Recon Type picks up a group of Windam mobile suits carrying nuclear missiles and on course for the PLANTs. The Windams fire their nuclear missiles, but at the same time a modified Nazca class ship fires the Neutron Stampeder, which causes the missiles to explode early, including the ones still not fired inside Windams and nearby ships. On Earth, Kira and Lacus see the flashes of nuclear explosions from the battle.
Athrun meets with Durandal, who says that he’s surprised the Alliance attacked them so quickly with nuclear weapons. Although they were able to defend themselves, the PLANTs are in a state of panic. Athrun asks Durandal what he intends to do, and Durandal answers that he wishes to avoid retaliation and war. Athrun says that if people fight while blinded by hatred, the sacrifices will be meaningless. Athrun says he lost everything before and doesn’t want to repeat the tragedy, and Durandal says he heard from Shinn about what Sato said. Durandal says that no matter what Athrun thinks of Patrick, he didn’t start out the way he was, and people with good intentions can make big mistakes, or have their words misinterpreted by others. He adds that the terrorists behind Junius Seven used Patrick’s words as an excuse to cover their own actions. He tells Athrun that he shouldn’t try to take responsibility for what Patrick did. Suddenly, a fake (and bustier) Lacus appears on TV across the PLANTs and urges the citizens to calm down. Athrun is shocked by the fake Lacus, and Durandal explains that as foolish as it looks, he needs her strength. He then takes Athrun to a hangar where the new Saviour Gundam is stored and asks what he would do with it. He says that he wants Athrun to be in a position of power and not caught up in political entanglements. At his hotel, Athrun runs into the fake Lacus, who introduces herself as Meer Campbell. She drags him along to dinner and asks about her performance, which he fumbles and answers that she did well. Meer says that she’s always been a fan of Lacus and was contacted by Durandal one day because he needed her strength for the PLANTs, and Athrun points out that Durandal doesn’t need Meer, but Lacus. Meer says that she’s nobody, but she’s happy if she can fill in for Lacus while she’s gone. The PLANT Supreme Council approves a drop operation on Earth. In Orb, Yuna tells Cagalli that they will sign the treaty with the Atlantic Federation. Andy Waltfeld secretly contacts the Minerva by radio and says that once ZAFT begins its drop operation, Orb will be forced to take action. As the Minerva prepares for launch, Cagalli comes to the ship and runs across Shinn, who asks what Orb is doing allying itself with the Atlantic Federation after being attacked by them in the last war. He deliberately bumps into her and says that if she’s his enemy, he’ll destroy Orb.
After the Minerva leaves, Yuna tells Cagalli that it couldn’t be helped because politics is reality, not ideals. He then says that he’ll support her – as her husband. At the PLANTs, Athrun makes an appointment to meet with Durandal. As soon as the Minerva reaches the border of Orb’s territorial waters, an Orb fleet appears behind it and an Alliance fleet in front. Talia addresses the crew and tells them that this will probably be their toughest battle yet. As the Alliance attacks, Shinn launches in the Core Splendor and forms up into the Force Impulse. Shinn easily destroys the airborne Jet Windams, while Rey and Lunamaria stay on deck to protect the Minerva. The massive mobile armor Zamza-Zah launches from one of the carriers, so Talia orders Arthur to fire the Tannhauser at it and the fleet. The Minerva fires its Tannhauser at the Zamza-Zah, but the Zamza-Zah activates its positron reflector to block the attack. Shinn attempts to take the Zamza-Zah head on, but he can’t get close enough. The Minerva begins to turn toward Orb’s waters, so Yuna orders the fleet to fire warning shots, over Cagalli’s objections. Todaka, the Orb fleet commander, is bothered that they’re allying themselves with the Atlantic Federation and attacking the ship that tried to save the world, so he orders his men to fire warning shots that will deliberately miss. The Zamza-Zah grabs onto the Force Impulse by the leg and drags it toward the ocean. It then snaps the leg off and tosses the Force Impulse toward the water. As Shinn falls, he says to himself that he won’t get defeated and goes into SEED mode. Shinn recovers and calls the Minerva to ask that they fire the deuterion beam and send out a new Leg Flyer and the Sword Silhouette. After recharging, Shinn destroys the Zamza-Zah with his beam saber and switches to the new Leg Flyer and Sword Silhouette. Using his anti-ship swords, Shinn single handedly destroys the entire Alliance fleet. Later, a group of commandos surround and attack the house where Kira and Lacus live with Malchio. Kira, his mother Caridad and Lacus help evacuate the children while Andy and Murrue Ramius fight off the commandos. A sniper in an air duct attempts to target Lacus, but Kira pushes her out of the way in time. In the underground shelter, Andy and Murrue conclude that the commandos are professionally trained Coordinators. The shelter suddenly rocks from an attack by ASH mobile suits. Kira asks Lacus for the keys to the Freedom Gundam‘s hangar. Outside, the ASH pilots are shocked when the Freedom Gundam blasts out of the hillside. Kira goes into SEED mode and easily disables all the ASHes. Before he can do anything, the disabled ASHes activate their self-destruct sequences. At the PLANTs, Athrun puts on a ZAFT red uniform and is presented a badge of FAITH (Fast Acting Integrated Tactical Headquarters) by Durandal. He tells Athrun to use his power for a world where everyone can live peacefully. Athrun then launches in the Saviour Gundam.
The first of DESTINY‘s Special Editions roughly covers episodes 1-13 of the TV series. There’s quite a few cuts here and there, but the story flows well for the most part. Episode 4 is gone, as is most of 7 and nearly all of the Minerva‘s time at Orb. Some of the cuts are rather unfortunate. Because the Special Edition is from Athrun’s perspective, Shinn has even less screen time, and when he does, it’s usually just his whiny moments. Gone is his brief camaraderie with Athrun after they survive Junius Seven. Although Shinn’s meeting with Kira is here, Talia’s meeting with Murrue isn’t. Also, Athrun’s casual meeting with Dearka and Yzak is gone, which relegates them to pretty much just having cameos. There’s a tiny bit of new footage at the beginning, as well as character shots that establish Heine as the pilot of the orange ZAKU during the space battle. The roughest part, in my opinion, is the transition from the Minerva ocean battle to the commandos attacking Lacus. There really should have been some new animation there to make that transition smoother. Overall, while it’s a shame to lose some scenes, this first Special Edition actually works as an alternative to the TV series, unlike the poorly edited Special Editions from the original SEED.