Athrun Zala (アスラン・ザラ Asuran Zara?) is the deuteragonist of both Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, but is the protagonist in the special edition of the latter series and the Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny: The Edge manga.
Personality & Character
As seen and even mentioned by Lacus Clyne herself, Athrun is described as a quiet, reserved, and often a benevolent individual. Athrun is shown to have a firm belief that if soldiers follow their orders then eventually the war will end with success. While good at following orders, Athrun has trouble acting as a team leader due to his compassionate outlook in life. In Destiny, Athrun's personality and ideals does not change much, but he does mature in some respects, especially when he rejoins ZAFT at the personal behest of Gilbert Durandal to command and become part of the ZAFT forces as a field commander aboard the Minerva. Due to his status as a hero to the PLANT colonies and ZAFT ace pilot, he somehow instinctively portrays a very professional aura and doesn't hesitate when giving orders that can come off as being harsh or demanding. Despite the former's particular distaste of being ordered around, Athrun still manages to act as a mentor to his young subordinates, such as Shinn Asuka and Lunamaria Hawke.
However, Athrun does have two major flaws, both of which often plague him in both SEED and Destiny. His perseverance to find himself and discern the truth of the moment amidst the chaos in both wars waged in both SEED and Destiny eventually eclipses that flaw. His second flaw is a by-product of his first flaw as his indecisiveness comes off as being labeled as a traitor to either side of the war, much to his frustration and denial. After his defection to Terminal, Athrun seems to regain a sense of what he is fighting for, but it is not clearly portrayed if he has resolved this personal issue.
Skills & Abilities
Before becoming a full-fledged pilot, Athrun had underwent training at the ZAFT military academy. It was there that he showed natural talent as a soldier, ranking 1st in mobile suit piloting, hand-to-hand combat, and knife-fighting, even going as far as to beat the renowned knife-fighting instructor "Fred of the Knife". With his natural experience as a pilot and high scores at the academy, it's very surprising that Kira Yamato was able to match him with skill alone.
His fighting style is not visibly limited in style, his mobile suits, GAT-X303 Aegis, the ZGMF-X09A Justice Gundam and later the ZGMF-X19A ∞ Justice Gundam, are all well-rounded ranged and close-combat type mobile suits that are always equiped with sufficient firepower and a minimum of two beam sabers. Although his style is typically well-rounded, he can also pilot mobile suits with more basic ability, and therefore less strategic uses, such as the ZGMF-1000/M Blaze ZAKU Warrior.
It is likely that Athrun's technical skills as a pilot are thanks to his long-practiced hobby of creating robotic toys, such as Kira's Birdy and Lacus's Haros.
Athrun's resolve in battle is often profound. He debates "truth", "war" and even the real difference between "right" and "wrong" on the battlefield. These thoughts never cloud his mind in the sense that they hinder his abilities. However, his anger or desire for revenge often make him act in a way that he later regrets. His only weakness as a pilot is his good nature, which leaves him troubled when faced with having to kill Kira, his best friend. Ultimately, his "perfect solider" mentality and his father's expectations blind him to what he truly wants.
Athrun was born in December City of the PLANTs on October 29, CE 55. In CE 61, Patrick Zala sends Athrun to attend a preparatory school in Copernicus City, located on the Moon. Here, he meets Kira Yamato and they become good friends. In CE 68, Patrick calls Athrun back from Copernicus City. Just before he leaves, Athrun builds a robotic pet bird, Birdy (Torii(which means bird) in the Japanese version), which he gives to Kira.
After returning to the PLANTs, Athrun finds that his father has arranged an engagement for him to PLANT pop idol Lacus Clyne. (According to the novelization of Gundam SEED, she is the first girl Athrun ever kissed. It is shown in episode 20 of Gundam SEED.) Athrun builds Haro, a pink ball-shaped robotic pet-companion for her, which she likes very much – his response is to build her a large number of them, which she names based on their colors.
On February 21, CE 70, Athrun enrolls in the ZAFT military because of his mother's death seven days earlier in the Bloody Valentine tragedy, which was caused by the Earth Alliance. Among the Le Creuset team members, he becomes friends with Nicol Amalfi and Rusty Mackenzie, and he is the only member whose views on Naturals differ from his parent's (and with the most dramatic consequences).
During his time at the ZAFT Military Academy, Athrun was first in almost all of his classes and was the top graduate, just above Yzak Joule. This may account for some of Yzak's hostilities toward Athrun.
Bloody Valentine War
Theft at Heliopolis
Morgenroete secretly develops five mobile suits for the Earth Alliance in a concealed base on the space colony Heliopolis, belonging to the supposedly neutral Orb. The mobile suits are intended to counter ZAFT's superior military technology. The Le Creuset team raids the base, managing to steal only four of the five mobile suits, because ZAFT pilot Rusty Mackenzie is shot and killed during the raid.
During the raid he meets he encounters his childhood friend, Kira Yamato, while brandishing a knife with intent to kill him and an Earth Alliance soldier, Murrue Ramius. Memories of their friendship keep Athrun from attacking Kira which gave Murrue enough time to recover and shoot at him, forcing him to step back. Kira becomes, albeit reluctantly, the pilot of the GAT-X105 Strike, the last of the five mobile suits, after Murrue forces him into the cockpit. (SEED: "False Peace")
It is after this that Athrun steals the GAT-X303 Aegis and the ensuing battle between the Le Creuset team and Kira Yamato tears apart and subsequently destroys Heliopolis.
Pursuit of the Archangel
Athrun engage Kira in battle several times thereafter as he and the rest of his team try to get the Strike. Athrun is, however, left in turmoil over having to fight his friend and attempts to convince Kira to join ZAFT, since Kira is a Coordinator, and explains to Kira why he joined ZAFT. His words affect Kira to some extent, but still his friend refuses to cross over (along with the Strike Gundam) to ZAFT.
Later, Athrun learns that his fiancée Lacus Clyne is on board the Archangel and is outraged when Natarle Badgiruel uses her as a hostage to protect the Archangel. Before withdrawing, Athrun asks Kira his idea of justice and vows to rescue Lacus at all costs. Kira later smuggles Lacus off the Archangel and back to Athrun. (And is even shocked to find a strangely bloated stomach which he has no idea that was just the result of having to force in the skirt of her dress in the suit) Upon retrieving his fiancée, Athrun asks Kira again to defect to ZAFT, but Kira again steadfastly refuses his offer. Neither Kira nor Athrun want to fight each other and they often think of one another and their unfortunate circumstances. Despite this, both declare to one another that they will shoot to kill the next time they meet.
Athrun is later appointed head of his own team - the Zala Team, and clashes with some of his fellow pilots on several issues especially on their failure to recover or destroy the Strike Gundam. On Earth, when the team is sent to the Carpentaria Base, the transport plane Athrun is in is shot down by Cagalli Yula Athha in a FX-550 Skygrasper, and who is shot down in return.
Athrun successfully lands his mobile suit on an island. There, he encounters Cagalli, who is also marooned there. After being shot at resulting to an armed conflict between the two and having to deal with the awkward revelation that she was, in fact, a girl, Athrun takes Cagalli prisoner, binding her wrists and feet together. While trying to get to Athrun's mobile suit in her tied up stage, Cagalli accidentally ends up almost drowning in a small but deep puddle made by the rain where Athrun rescues her. An exchange of humorous banters is had between them that results in Athrun setting her free because she seemed like she couldn't be any serious threat to him. While waiting for retrieval, the two talk. Their viewpoints about the war clash, but they listen to each other with Athrun being the one to give up first knowing that it would get them nowhere. He falls asleep on her, giving Cagalli an opening to steal his gun that she eventually throws away, resulting to it misfiring with the bullet grazing Athrun's side. This eventually leads to a mutual truce between them and they exchange names. They later rescued by their respective forces. Neither tells anyone about what happened on the island.
Athrun later discovers that Cagalli is actually the princess of the neutral Earth nation, Orb Union.
A Tragic DueL
Believing the Archangel is hiding in Orb, Athrun leads the rest of the Zala team on a covert mission. During their search, they're spotted by Junk Guild members Lowe Guele, Kisato Yamabuki, Liam Garfield and Serpent Tail representative Kazahana Adja as they're trying to find their away around. Yzak, Dearka and Nicol wish to kill them, but Athrun defuses the situation, letting them know they were new to the place themselves. Though suspicious, Lowe and the others blew it off and accepted it. When Birdy escaped from Kira, it flew to where Athrun was and the two boys confronted each other briefly. With his suspicions confirmed, Athrun and the rest of the team wait for the Archangel to leave Orb territorial waters. The intended ambush goes poorly thanks to Kira's sudden improvement in battle, Nicol in the badly damaged Blitz is killed by Kira's hands after he tries to protect Athrun, sparking the unbridled hate that would decide the aftermath of Athrun and Kira's next encounter later on.
Spotting the Archangel, Athrun rushed in and got ready for the final battle. Athrun and Kira meet in combat again. Angered by Nicol's death, he charges at Kira and fights slowly draining Aegis' energy. Even though Athrun's team fought with full anger, Kira managed to take down Yzak and Dearka. In the end, Athrun remains as the only one standing and begins the all out battle. Tolle Koenig, Kira's good friend then comes to help. When interrupted, Athrun throws the Aegis's shield at the FX-550 Skygrasper formerly piloted by Cagalli, killing Kira's friend Tolle Koenig in the process. Kira enraged activates SEED mode. Athrun, too activates his SEED mode, for the first time. Athrun and Kira begins the most brutal battle, neither side not wanting to lose. Each person destroying out parts of their Gundam, Athrun and Kira appears to be evenly matched. Running out of energy, Athrun decides to grasp on to strike and kill Kira with the Scylla energy Cannon. However it was seconds till the Aegis ran out of energy. In a last attempt to kill Kira, Athrun uses the Aegis's self-destruction system on the strike, escaping at the last second. He is caught by the shockwave of the blast, injuring him to some extent.
Athrun is found injured on the beach near the site of his and Kira's battle by Cagalli and ORB. When Athrun regains consciousness, he finds Cagalli points a gun at him, demanding to know what happened to Kira. Athrun, obviously distraught, says that he has killed his best friend, Kira. Cagalli angrily asks why while aiming the gun point-blank at his face, Athrun snaps back that Kira has killed several ZAFT comrades and his anger had finally reached its peak with Nicol's death with him eventually stating that Kira was his enemy for not being on his side, on the side of ZAFT. Cagalli snaps and calls him an idiot, asking why he could do something terrible to his best friend. It is here that Athrun breaks down into tears as Cagalli explains some of the teachings her father, that killing for vengeance will never bring peace but simply more conflict and asks him again how his thinking will ever bring about peace. Before returning him to ZAFT, Athrun calls Cagalli strange and wonders if he should thank her and just resigns to saying that he really doesn't know. Cagalli gives Athrun her Haumea amulet as a good luck charm, hoping that it will protect him, and answering his question of why she would give it to him after killing Kira with "I just don't want anyone else to die."
Acquiring the ZGMF-X09A Justice
After returning to ZAFT, Athrun was awarded the Order of the Nebula for the achievement of destroying the Strike, and he is chosen to be under the direct command of the PLANT Supreme Council and assigned the newly developed ZGMF-X09A Justice. He is ordered to track down and retrieve the ZGMF-X10A Freedom, which had been stolen by Kira, with the aid of Lacus. Lacus is accused of selling ZAFT out to the Earth Alliance, but Athrun has trouble accepting that Lacus could be a traitor. He eventually finds Lacus and saves her from assassination.
Lacus tells Athrun that Kira is alive and is the Freedom's new pilot. She tells him to think about what he should really be fighting for. Instead of following his father's orders or feeling bound to his military duty, he should determine what he believes to be right. Lacus then tells Athrun that he should go to Earth and speak with Kira. Athrun launches in the Justice and arrives on Earth. Before attempting to locate Kira, he visits the wreckage of the Aegis and the Strike. There, he encounters Reverend Malchio, who gives him an update on the war.
Defection from ZAFT
Athrun eventually finds Kira in Orb, engaged in combat with the GAT-X131 Calamity, GAT-X252 Forbidden and GAT-X370 Raider. Athrun watches, wrestling with his own loyalties, until Kira is slowly overpowered by the enemy. Athrun then makes his choice and steps in to save his friend. As the enemy mobile suits retreat, the two friends try to work out their differences. Neither wanted to be the other's enemy and both wanted to end the Bloody Valentine War. But in order to do this, both friends would have to abandon their respective nation's militaries. Uncertain at first, Athrun makes no promises, but he eventually aids Kira during the fall of Orb, instead of fighting him and retrieving the Freedom like he was originally ordered to do so. Athrun then follows the survivors of the battle into space.
Before deciding to join the resistance group with Lacus, Kira, and the others, Athrun decides to talk to his father, Patrick Zala, who was now the Chairman of PLANT Supreme Council, to find out his father's true intentions. Athrun returns to the PLANTs without the Justice and speaks to his father about the war. During a heated argument between father and son, Athrun's father reveals that he intends to drag the war on until all the Naturals are exterminated as revenge for the death of his wife, Lenore. Athrun is shocked and angered by his father's revelation, and is shot in the arm by his father then arrested for refusing to reveal the location of the Justice and the Freedom. Athrun is later freed by Martin DaCosta (under Lacus's orders) and they escape to the Eternalwhere Lacus was waiting. With Athrun and DaCosta on board, the Eternal then breaks away from its dock and escapes. However, their path was blocked by a Jachin Due fleet but they were saved by Kira in the Freedom, who was waiting outside the PLANTs.
Rise of Three Ships Alliance
After Athrun defects from ZAFT, he joins the newly formed resistance group called the Three Ships Alliance. Kira, Cagalli, and former Le Creuset Team member Dearka Elsman were part of this alliance consisting of the Earth Alliance's Archangel, Orb's Kusanagi, and ZAFT's Eternal. During the final stages of the war, he and Cagalli develop a romantic relationship. The two of them even shared a kiss in episode 48 after he tells her that he will protect her when she said she was going to join them in the battlefield.
Along with the Three Ships Alliance, Athrun is instrumental in ending the Bloody Valentine War, between ZAFT and the Earth Alliance Forces. During the Second Battle of Jachine Due, Athrun & the TSA were able to stop the Alliance's nuclear attack on the PLANTs, and later destroyed the GAT-X131 Calamity, killing Biological CPU Orga Sabnak. Athrun, Cagalli, and an Orb Pilot fight their way into Jachin Due and is shocked to find his father shot by ZAFT commander Ray Yuki. As Patrick Zala lies dying, he urges his son Athrun to fire the GENESIS superweapon at the Earth. His death pushes Athrun to tears, but does nothing to sway Athrun from trying to find away to stop the GENESIS from firing. Instead, Athrun decided to detonate the nuclear-powered Justice in the GENESIS itself, with him still inside, in a last ditch effort to stop the machine from firing. Because Cagalli reminds him that he needs to stop running and have the courage to live, Athrun boards Cagalli's MBF-02 Strike Rouge and they escape the explosion. Afterwards he is seen exiting the mangled remains of the Stike Rouge before being caught in a teary-eyed embrace by Cagalli. Later they find Kira alongside his badly-damaged Freedom by following his robotic pet bird, both of them crying tears of joy at the sight of him. (SEED: "To An Endless Future")
Second Bloody Valentine War
After the first bloody valentine war, Athrun and the other surviving members of the Le Creuset team, Yzak Joule and Dearka Elsman are tried for their actions. They were ably defended by Gilbert Durandal.
Athrun leaves ZAFT and moves to the Orb Union, living under the pseudonym Alex Dino (アレックス・ディノ Arekkusu Dino?). During the Armory One incident, he is present in the PLANT as Cagalli's aide and bodyguard, and is involved in the fighting to retake the stolen mobile suits. He later joins the ZAFT battleship, Minerva, and fights against the terrorists in the Junius Seven Colony Drop alongside Shinn Asuka and former teammates Yzak and Dearka. Aboard the Minerva, he is unmasked by Gilbert, the Chairman of the PLANT Supreme Council who had joined theMinerva in its pursuit of the mobile suit thieves. Athrun nearly dies during this battle, but is rescued by Shinn.
Athrun and Cagalli then desembark Minerva at Orb, where Cagalli's political duties keep them separated much of the time. Seeing the deteriorating political situation, Arthun decides to return to the PLANTs. Before leaving, Athrun silently slides a ring onto Cagalli's finger, which leads to an awkward moment before they regain their composure and share an emotional farewell, including a kiss. (In Gundam SEED Destiny I: The Shattered World, this kiss was reanimated into a light peck on the cheek).
Return to ZAFT
In the turmoil preceding the declaration of the Second Bloody Valentine War, he returns to ZAFT, hoping to avert the war, but it is too late. Athrun meets with Chairman Durandal, who convinces him to use his power to keep the world on the right path. Athrun re-enlists in ZAFT, and Durandal appoints him a member of the elite special forces, FAITH. Athrun is assigned the new mobile suitZGMF-X23S Saviour, and given total freedom of action.
With Saviour, he returns to Earth and joins the Minerva in the battle against the Earth Alliance, now allied with Orb. Athrun becomes commander of the Minerva's mobile suit pilots Rey Za Burrel,Lunamaria Hawke, and Shinn. Athrun is somewhat of a mentor to Shinn, though the two do not always get along well.
His romantic life becomes more complicated. Lunamaria develops an interest in him. She informs him that Cagalli, has almost gone through with an arranged marriage to Yuna Roma Seiran, but was kidnapped before the ceremony was completed. Athrun finds out he is still considered engaged to Lacus Clyne, whose role has been taken by Meer Campbell, a singer who is impersonating Lacus for political reasons, and Meer pursues him rather aggressively. Lunamaria's younger sister Meyrin Hawke becomes interested in Athrun as well, but her shyness makes this less apparent.
Athrun is involved in the Battle of Gulnahan and Dardanelles, where he loses a new, but dear friend, Heine Westenfluss. After Dardanelles, he bumps into Miriallia Haw, who arranges a secret meeting for him with Cagalli and Kira Yamato. Lunamaria spies on this meeting under orders from Captain Talia Gladys.
Athrun and the others disagree strongly on many points. He tells Cagalli that if she wants Orb to stop fighting against ZAFT, she needs to return to Orb and get them to end their ties to the Earth Alliance. In return, Athrun is told that Coordinators have attempted to assassinate the real Lacus, which means Kira and the others do not trust Chairman Durandal. Much is still unresolved after he leaves.
Second defection from ZAFT
Athrun's mobile suit, the Saviour, is later destroyed by Kira in the ZGMF-X10A Freedom during the Battle at Crete, because Kira is angry over what he thinks is Athrun's indifference to Cagalli's emotional distress. Not long after watching the epic battle between Shinn and Kira during Operation Angel Down, resulting in the destruction of the Freedom and the supposed sinking of theArchangel by the Minerva, the distraught and disillusioned Athrun is tipped off by Meer, who had overheard Chairman Durandal and Rey. Since they have failed to fully convince him of their cause, they were preparing to frame him as a traitor using photographs of his meeting with Kira and Cagalli. (Athrun's situation probably was not helped by his defection in the first war.)
Rather than be arrested, Athrun flees. Meer refuses his offer to escape with him, though she does not aid those pursuing him, either. Soon after, Athrun take refuge in the room of Minerva CIC officer and gifted hacker, Meyrin. With her help, Athrun escapes from ZAFT's Gibraltar Base in a stolen ZGMF-2000 GOUF Ignited mobile suit.
Claiming that Athrun and Meyrin are working for Logos and have stolen ZAFT's top military secrets, including its plan to attack Logos headquarters at Heaven's Base, Chairman Durandal orders Rey and Shinn to pursue Athrun with their respective new mobile suits. Athrun informs Shinn that he was being deceived. Although Shinn is shocked and reluctant to shoot at first due to his anger, he eventually goes into SEED mode and destroys the GOUF Ignited, seemingly killing both Athrun and Meyrin. The pair was actually injured and unconscious and are rescued by a defected Earth Alliance ship led by Ledonir Kisaka, the former Kusanagi co-captain in the First Bloody Valentine War, who had infiltrated, now pretending to be an Earth Alliance officer. Athrun recuperates from his ordeal on the Archangel, watched over by his friends, Kira and Cagalli, and later by Meyrin.
Battle of Orb
During the battle of Orb, an incapacitated Athrun helplessly resigns himself in watching the battle from afar inside the Archangel, he even screamed Cagalli's name terror both in the original, inGundam SEED Destiny Special Edition II Flames of Destiny and Gundam SEED Destiny: The Edge when he discovers that Shinn had joined in the fray piloting the ZGMF-X42S Destiny Gundam. Once Lacus arrives, her words get through to Athrun and he regains his confidence and decides to launch with the ZGMF-X19A Infinite Justice, wearing an Orb pilot suit, to join the battle. Athrun tries to persuade Meyrin to stay in a place of safety, but she chooses to accompany the Archangel.
Even though Athrun is not fully recovered from his wounds, he helps Kira who has been fighting the ZGMF-X666S Legend and ZGMF-X42S Destiny Gundam all by himself. Shinn, pilot of the Destiny, is shocked and angry that Athrun has survived their last encounter. Athrun demands that Shinn stop attacking Orb and questions if what he is doing is right. Urged by Rey and convinced that Athrun is a traitor, Shinn attacks Athrun but the two are fairly evenly matched. Once Shinn activates his SEED Athrun responds in kind and in a single move cuts off the ZGMF-X42S Destiny Gundam's hand, however in the Special Edition it revealed this was possible due to Shinn getting distracted. Athrun is, however, badly beaten by Shinn in Gundam SEED Destiny: The Edgethanks to the severity of his injuries.
After the ZAFT forces retreat, Athrun loses consciousness and the pilotless Infinite Justice begins a freefall. Kira in the Freedom catches the Infinite Justice and prevents a crash. When Kira removes Athrun's helmet and pilot suit back on the Archangel, Athrun's wounds have re-opened and he is bleeding profusely. Kira orders a stretcher to bring Athrun to the sick bay and Athrun recovers from his injuries not long after. After a full recovery, Athrun is commissioned into the Orb military and assigned as one of the Archangel's mobile suit squadron commanders.
Return to Space
Following Lord Djibril's attack on the PLANTs using the Requiem superweapon, Minerva returns to space on Chairman Durandal's orders and there is another conflict between ZAFT and Lord Djibril in space, which leads to Djibril's death and ZAFT's capture of the Requiem.
Athrun and the crew of the Archangel, which now includes Neo Roanoke, go into space aboard the Archangel and vow to stop Chairman Durandal from implementing his "Destiny Plan". Before they leave, Cagalli addresses the troops. Athrun is surprised to see she is no longer wearing the ring he had given her, and she leaves without speaking to him. His friends Kira and Lacus attempt to speak with him about Cagalli, but Athrun assures them everything will be all right. Meanwhile, Cagalli tells Meyrin to take care of Athrun and leaves, crying. Cagalli returns to her homeland, using her political position to sort out the issues that have plagued Orb while she has been away. In Gundam SEED Destiny "Final Plus", new footage had been added to the scene in episode 45. The new footage shows Cagalli embracing her friends. Athrun Zala being the last (and only one to have initiated the embrace first) to be embraced before the they leave Earth. Cagalli stays in ORB and attends to her duties instead of going with them. In Gundam SEED Destiny: The Edge, the scene is retained and after embracing Cagalli, at the end of Phase 19 of Volume 5, while at the bridge of the Archangel with Kira, Athrun silently says to himself (instead of Kira and Lacus as in the Final Plus) that there was no need to rush and that their dreams were the same. Even adding at the end of his personal monologue that:
"So that our paths may cross again...
I will protect that future."
The Archangel docks at the free Copernicus City on the Moon, where Athrun, Kira, Lacus, and Meyrin go on an information gathering trip in the city. They receive a note addressed to Lacus, in which Meer claims she is about to be killed. Athrun and Meyrin both suspect it is a trap, but Lacus wants to see Meer.
At the meeting, ZAFT soldiers attempt to assassinate Lacus. Athrun guns down most of the opposition, though Kira and Meyrin prove competent in defending the group as well. Meer however, is shot and killed by a bullet intended for Lacus. Distraught, Athrun carries Meer's body back to the Archangel, where she is given a funeral.
This scene is different in Gundam SEED Destiny: The Edge with the most prominent change being Athrun's still injured state, the absence of Meyrin during the trip to the city and the presence of the three ZGMG-XX09T DOM Trooper pilots in her stead.
Battle of Messiah: Assault on Requiem
When the Atlantic Federation, Orb Union, and Kingdom of Scandinavia refuse to participate in the Destiny Plan; Chairman Durandal uses the captured and repaired Requiem superweapon to destroy the Arzachel Lunar Base and part of the Earth Alliance fleet.
The remainder of the Earth Alliance fleet and a few members of ZAFT then join the forces of Terminal in an attempt to stop Durandal before he can use the Requiem again to fire upon and thus annihilate Orb.
During the final battle, Athrun comes upon Lunamaria in her ZGMF-X56S Impulse. He does not want to fight her, but, because Lunamaria refused to backdown, he was forced to into disabling the Impulse. Seeing this, Shinn proceeds to attack Athrun in rage thinking that Athrun had originally meant to hurt Lunamaria. In a burst of rage, Shinn charges at Athrun while in SEED mode. Lunamaria, having realized the truth behind Athrun's words and fearing for Shinn's unstable state, moves between them in an attempt to stop the battle at the last second, but Shinn is unable to stop himself from attacking. Athrun goes into SEED mode and saves Lunamaria, heavily crippling the Destiny and propelling it downwards onto the Moon’s surface. With the badly damaged Destiny and Impulse no longer a threat, Athrun goes off in search of the Minerva and disables it's main thrusters using the ∞ Justice's Fatum-01 backpack/sub-flight lifter.
Athrun, along with Mu La Flaga in the ORB-01 Akatsuki, make their way past ZAFT's last defensive front and penetrate the Requiem's positron deflector. Just as the superweapon is about to fire, they destroy the core of the Requiem, ultimately saving ORB.
In the Gundam SEED Destiny "Final Plus" episode, Athrun then boards the Messiah, following Kira. He arrives just in time to overhear Kira and Durandal's conversation and even lay witness to the scene of Durandal being shot by Rey. He and Kira escapes the Messiah safely afterwards. When retreat flares are fired from all surviving ships, Athrun, feeling pity for the two, picks up Shinn and Lunamaria from the Moon, in the Infinite Justice. In episode 50 of Gundam SEED Destiny, Athrun never boards the Messiah.
In "Final Plus", at the ravaged Orb memorial previously visited by Shinn, Kira, and Lacus in episode 8, Athrun and Shinn (accompanied by Meyrin and Lunamaria) are paying their respects when Kira and Lacus join them. Athrun introduces Kira to Shinn and Lunamaria as the pilot of the Freedom. Afterwards, the three pairs go their separate ways with Meyrin following behind Athrun. It is unclear if Athrun still pursued Cagalli after.
In the ending credits of Gundam SEED Destiny: Special Edition, Athrun is shown wearing an Admiral's uniform of the Orb military (the rank was changed to Commander in the final episode of the HD Remaster Edition) as he escort's Kira to the PLANTs to meet with Lacus, meaning he chose to return to and stay in ORB.
- Kira Yamato
- Kira is, presumably, one of the first friends Athrun made that he could truly open up to, despite his social awkwardness with most people. His childhood friendship with Kira became one of his most cherished things, evident in his keeping of pictures and such from the old days with Kira. As a sign of their friendship, when the two separated, Athrun gifted Kira with his robotic bird, Tori.
- Meeting Kira again, but on the battlefield, gave Athrun much confliction between his feelings and duty. In battle he would often hesitate in attacking Kira. Squandering his chances to defeat his friend early on in battle took a toll on him as it would result in Kira growing too strong, and inflicting damage to others Athrun cares about, like scarring Yzak Joule, and eventually killing Nicol Amalfi, resulting in Athrun to kill Tolle Koenig in return. The deaths of Nicol and Tolle put a strong strain on their friendship as they let go of their doubts and feelings and went to full on fight in order to kill each other in revenge.
- Over all Though, Kira and Athrun share a similar ideal of peace and appalling of violence and unnecessary death. Once the two join forces they consistently have each others backs, even despite mixed feeling about previous actions. The two have a natural brotherly bond and chemistry together, shown in their intense team-work and combination attacks, trumping otherwise challenging foes.
- Cagalli Yula Athha
- Athrun's feeling towards Cagalli was original something of mind-boggling for him. Meeting her stranded on an island after a fight, the two bonded in which Athrun couldn't help but be able to naturally connect and bond with her, a trait only shared with a few like Kira and Nicol. The two eventually grew more as they reunited as allies. Athrun was very comforting to her after the death of her father, Uzumi Nara Athha, having a similar pain due to the loss of his own mother, Lenore Zala.
- The two eventually fall in love, and decide to risk life and limb to protect each other. Athrun even abandoned his position and fame in ZAFT in order to be close to Cagalli, even despite the secrecy that came with it. He disliked her engagement with Yuna Roma Seiran, but despite it he still shared his feelings with her and didn't give up on her. Though, after a prolonged time of differing views and execution of ideals, a strong strain was put on their relationship. However, after Athrun's defection from ZAFT once again, he is rescued along with Meyrin Hawke. While just awoken from his injured state, Cagalli rushes in to the infirmary, teary-eyed, after hearing of Athrun's awakening. Thus which, she brushes his bangs from his face, to where he catches a glimpse of the ring he gave her, giving her a soft loving gaze afterwards. Soon after, they have a private chat, to which they apologize to each other. Athrun, for his harsh words toward Cagalli and Kira, and of his re-enlistment to ZAFT without say. Cagalli, for almost going through a marriage with Yuuna Roma Seiran. However, to an understanding, Athrun tells her that it was to protect ORB. They both forgive each other, and Cagalli later questions if there is no hope for the world, to which Athrun answers, "No. Definitely not." After which, Cagalli is seen watching over Athrun as he rests.
- Before the Archangel descends for space again, Athrun is surprised to see that Cagalli is not wearing is ring when she is giving the Archangel crew a speech. However, it is shown that she still keeps the ring in safe keeping in a ring case stored in her drawer (shown in GSD REMASTERED episode 44 and GSD Special Edition 4). Though Kira and Lacus want to assure him, Athrun himself already knows, saying that they didn't need to rush (on their relationship or any marriages; they're still young of age), as they needed to stop the war first. And added that they share the same dream. In Gundam Seed Destiny the Edge, Athrun added his personal monologue, "So that our paths may cross again, I will protect that future." Meaning that he and his friends needed to stop the war and create peace once again, so that he can one day be with Cagalli again.
- In the "GSD Final Plus", "GSD Special Edition 4", and "GSD REMASTERED" episode 44, Cagalli gives her friends her good-byes as she cannot go with them to space due to her duties in ORB. Athrun is shown to be the only one to initiate a more intimate hug, surprising Cagalli, but she soon returns the hug with the same affections.
After the war, Athrun is shown to be the only one out of the entire gang (besides Miriallia Haww, Murrue Ramius, Mwu La Flaga, and Andrew Waltfeld) to return to ORB and officially becoming a commander (Admiral in GSD Special Edition 4) of its military (possibly stating that he decided to become an official ORB citizen of his own identity). This could state that Athrun decided to return to Cagalli's side and take on the role of protecting her once again (as Kira did for Lacus by becoming a ZAFT commander and moving to PLANT to be with Lacus).
- Shinn Asuka
- Athrun had much respect for Shinn as a pilot, seeing greatness and potential in him. However, he had great concern for him as soldier, finding Shinn to be too influenced by his own emotions and opinions, causing him disobey orders and go off on his own. During his time on the Minerva, Athrun took interest in Shinn's development as a mentor, trying to teach him lessons of war and battle, in hopes of influencing him to change his ways, let go of his anger, and not fall under the same cycle Athrun himself suffered. However, Athrun's problems with connecting with people was a hinderance to his attempts, often resulting in him merely hitting Shinn for his mistakes and lecturing, as well as Athrun lack of conviction in his choices, weighing down his abilities, caused Shinn to steadily lose respect for the ace.
- Despite his earnest attempts to persuade Shinn, his own social problems and sense of doubt proved to be ineffective, the manipulation of Gilbert Dullindal and Rey Za Burrel being far stronger than Athrun's influence. In the end, Athrun managed to beat down Shinn, after gaining the belief in himself he needed, but spared Shinn knowing all the blame for his actions didn't lie on solely him, and still offered Shinn a friendly hand, joining forces.
- Lacus Clyne
- Athrun and lacus go back a ways, being connected by their fathers who were both Supreme Council members. They were fairly good friends who cared about each other, but Athrun and Lacus never truly connected emotionally, despite their fathers' arrange engagement between them. They went along with the wishes of their parents though, at least enjoying the kindness they shared between each other, Athrun even creating Lacus' bundle of Haro (anime)s. Their engagement ended with Lacus falling for Kira and defection from the PLANTs, as well as Athrun falling for Cagalli. They still shared their friendship though, and high amounts of respect with each other, as well as concern. Athrun was often inspired by Lacus' words and speeches, even snapping out of a depression and returning to battle after defecting from ZAFT the second time.
- Nicol Amalfi
- Nicol was a closer friend to Athrun during his time with ZAFT and the training academy, and one of the very few people Athrun truly connected with, like Kira and and Cagalli. Where as Yzak and Dearka were often paired together and side by side, Athrun and Nicol shared that similar relationship with each other. Nicol admired Athrun's strength, even telling stories about how he wa top of the class when they were in training. Athrun on the other hand enjoyed Nicol's kindness and innocence, thinking he never really did belong on the battlefield, but was admirable for being so. Athrun also seemed fond of Nicol's music, listening to the scores he wrote, going to his recitals when they were on leave, and even keeping his sheet music once he was gone. The death of Nicol was one of the biggest blows Athrun ever took, throwing him into a deep depression, and later a fit of great rage, being enough to forsake his friend kira for his action, and truly attempt to kill him.
- Yzak Joule
- Yzak and Athrun had a rough frenemy relationship ever since they met at the ZAFT Academy. Athrun never really condoned Yzak's more spiteful, violent, and rage induced motives or style. As for Yzak, he always wanted to be the top man, but always played second fiddle in terms of skill to Athrun. But despite their differences and sometimes bickering, they truly did grow on each other, and became friends, even if their friendship was silence. Athrun truly saw Yzak's more emotional side after the death of Nicol, and the team shared a moment of sorrow together, before getting their act together to avenge their fallen teammate. Later, Yzak vowed to become the next commander, and strong leader, and he will lead the team with great strength.
- Towards the end of the war, Yzak semi-sided with Athrun's side, without betraying his own. in C.E.73, the two were reunited during the fall of Junius Seven, Yzak surely enough the leader he vowed to become. they fought side by side, Yzak teasing Athrun about being a civilian now, and doesn't belong here, but secretly still smiled, happy to see his friend alive, well, and fighting. Meeting on the PLANTs, Yzak with Dearka expressed their wishes to have Athrun return to ZAFT and fight in the new war, saying its where he belongs. During the final battle Yzak once again found conflict over fighting with his old friend again, but surely enough sided to team with Athrun, sharing a same goal of destroying a super weapon before it took more lives than needed to be lost.
- "War is not about being a hero!"
- "Killing for revenge. Dying for revenge. Does it truly bring us any closer to peace?"
- "Remember; this is a mission, not a fight."
- "Stop fooling yourself! Destroying everything! Even wiping out the future! Is this really the world you desire?! Or that kind of power you desire?!"
- "I can't exactly fight a war with a big smile on my face."
- "We separated as friends and the next time I saw him we were enemies"
- "Using a rescued civilian as a hostage? So do you still feel justified in fighting by their side with these cowards? Kira?"
- "You need to stop fighting while you're still trapped in your past! Doing something like this won't bring anyone back!"
- "You know I'm not the type of person who gives up."