Birds of a Feather by Solid Shark is a Gundam SEED fanfic that takes place in an Alternate Universe where there was a sixth Super Prototype under construction at Heliopolis, and where former ZAFT Ace Pilot and Strategist Kenneth "Falcon" DiFalco joins the Archangel's crew as part of a wider plan he's running... one that will end the stalemated war...One of the recommended fanfics for tropers, and possibly one of the most popular Gundam SEED fanfics around, Birds of a Feather takes the existing SEED setup and looks at it in a different light, while suceeding in telling an entertaining story that rivals canon. The author has described it as Ace Combat meets SEED, with a dash of Metal Gear and Honorverse levels of scheming.Is followed by a sequel, Cry of the Falcon, an AU of Destiny, and a prequel, Soldier of ZAFT, covering Ken's ZAFT career before Birds of a Feather began.This fic contains examples of the following tropes, in addition to those already present in the source material:
Ascended Extra: A few, most notably Shiho Hahnenfuss. Outside of a couple of obscure manga appearances, she has two or three non-speaking background appearances in canon. Here she plays a sizable role, culminating in killing Shani Andras.
Ascended Fanboy: In-universe example with Shinn in Cry of the Falcon; here he's an admirer of the Grimaldi Falcon, and when he finds out that he gets to fly with Ken in combat... he doesn't quite squee, but the hero worship is obvious.
Back from the Dead: Also Rau Le Creuset. Much to the displeasure of most of the world, including most allies of the man who gave the order.
Badass Crew: The Gray Demons are mentioned to have been this before most of them were killed at Endymion. The Le Creuset Team are also this, which is why Ken makes a point of recruiting them into True ZAFT. On the Earth Alliance side, we have the Frighteners, an all elite unit based off of the British SAS.
Badass Longcoat: Really applies to just about any ZAFT redcoat; more traditionally, Ken and Waltfeld both usually wear trench coats over their uniforms.
Badass Normal: Sophia DiFalco, Ken's Natural sister, who manages to hold her own despite being outgunned for most of BoaF.
Major -later Colonel- Karen Willet is another. She's trained her body to Coordinator levels, sort of like Rock Lee from Naruto. She's actually able to use a Coordinator-type OS.
Big Damn Heroes: When a battle goes badly awry for the Archangel's group late in the story, none other than Lewis Halberton arrives with another rogue Earth Alliance ship, the Odin, and, possessing the means to ignore the jamming hampering the Archangel's fighting ability, blasts the ambushers to dust bunnies, taking the time to deliver a Pre-Mortem One-Liner to the EAF commander along the way.
Bigger Stick: Ken seeks for, and attains, the biggest stick in mecha technology... and then gets it blown halfway to scrap metal in its first major engagement. The Earth Forces and ZAFT learn from his example in Cry of the Falcon, constantly attempting to one-up each other.
In Cry of the Falcon, ZAFT's latest toy is the TRVF-51 Fianna, a variable fighter. Section Nine goes for the TRVF-51A model with nuclear reactors, N-Jammer cancelers and VPS to have a bigger stick... and because the full-spec Fianna is more complex than the basic Fianna & thus has a longer assembly time, they can only deploy four units in the time it takes for ZAFT to deploy two squadrons.
The Chessmaster: Ken, fullstop. The man is always running one plan, and has at least two backups. He's only caught off-guard three times in the fic.
Doesn't quite qualify for Magnificent Bastard status, though, if only because when his plans do fall apart, so does he.
Cloning Blues: Ken is speculated in-story to be a clone of Al Da Flaga, but is stated to actually be the result of a form of postmortem artificial insemination, making him and Mu brothers. His usual rival and former protege Victor Tempest, on the other hand...
Common Knowledge: Thanks to the author naming the Neutron Stampede platform as the Marie Curienote the scientist who discovered Radium & died of radiation poisoning, almost everyone now believes that to be the name of the ship, despite being officially unnamed.
Curb-Stomp Battle: In Cry of the Falcon, the Earth Alliance commando unit attacking Siegel and Lacus Clyne is assisted by a half-dozen ForbiddenVortexes. Their target is covered solely by the Justice, with a rusty Athrun Zala at the controls. The poor bastards never stood a chance.
Custom Uniform: Instead of the white coat and uniform worn by ZAFT Commanders, Ken prefers to wear the red uniform and a Badass Longcoat. The Gray Demons have a subtler modification, using feathers on the collar of their uniforms & flightsuits.
Does Not Like Guns: Ken, partly as a result of being nearly killed with one in a botched robbery before the series. Ironically, while he's as pathetic with most firearms as would be expected, he's eventually revealed to be an expert sniper.
The Dreaded: To some extent, several of the top aces of the old True ZAFT. An example on the Earth Alliance front appears to be Major Karen Willet, who shut up and cowed even trigger-happy OscarGoldberg just by showing up and uttering a few harsh words.
Drives Like Crazy: Ken, as noted once in Birds of a Feather and then referenced again when his subordinates refuse to let him drive during the escape from the attack on Section Nine's Orb headquarters in Cry of the Falcon.
Easy Logistics: Subverted. Despite having their own warship construction facilities, True ZAFT still has to raid Earth Forces convoys to stay supplied.
Expanded Universe: A few authors have played with the Falconverse setting and certain elements have been canonized:
Cry Of the Falcon. Solid Shark's sequel to BoaF, covering the events of the Destiny period.
Soldier of ZAFT. A prequel to BoaF, intended to cover Ken's time in ZAFT, leading up to BoaF. It's on the back burner while CotF is being worked on, but the author intends to complete it.
Rebellion, by Ominae. Set in the interquel period between SEED and Destiny (Or rather, Birds of a Feather and Cry of the Falcon), detailing a rebellion within the Equatorial Union against the EA leadership. Canonized in broad strokes.
That story is only slightly connected to the Falconverse as far as its own continuity is concerned. The only Falconverse element to appear is Ken's sister Sophia. In the Falconverse, Rebellion is -with broad strokes- canon, but within Rebellion the Falconverse isn't quite that connected although it is.
Beware The Left Eye, by Wild Goose. A pair of sidestories focused on CotF side character Saito, with shoutouts to Full Metal Jacket and Ghost in the Shell. Considered fully-compliant with Falconverse canon.
In the same fic, ZAFT drops the DOM and goes instead for the TRVF-51 Fianna, which is the SV-51 of Macross Zero.
Ken himself is also a partial expy of the Honorverse's Victor Cachat, whose signature traits ended up defining the final version of Ken (who went through several incarnations in the planning stages of the fic, and was not originally envisioned as military at all).
In Cry of the Falcon, Jonas Pike and Oscar Goldberg's interactions are evocative of longsuffering Krindi Fain and aiming-impaired Erkum Pol from the Prince Roger series. (Though Goldberg's a lot more eloquent than Erkum ever was.)
Flanderization: Of Kira's so-called Thou Shalt Not Kill policy. It was only long after completing Birds of a Feather that the author realized he'd misinterpreted Kira's preference for disabling attacks for an unwillingness to kill, when in fact Kira does not hesitate to do so even after acquiring the Freedom, when the need arises.
Gamebreaking Injury: As a result of the wounds he suffered at Endymion, Ken has an artificial heart and lung, powered by his body's bioelectric field. While adequate for normal activity, it proves insufficient for strenuous activity, resulting in Ken's tendency to connect his prosthetics to a portable battery supply or his mobile suit's power system when going into combat. His preference not to mention the vulnerability to anyone nearly kills him more than once.
Gorn: The siege of the Section Nine Orb base is considerably bloodier than anything else in the Falconverse, and frequently touches on this trope.
Zig-zagged with Admiral Chernock: he led the 4th Fleet in the attempt to blockade the PLAN Ts, was scapegoated for the subsequent defeat and spent Birds of a Feather on a beach in Mexico. He's rehabilitated and returned to active duty in Cry of the Falcon.
Gratuitous German: The inscriptions on the Gray Demons' swords are all in German, albeit probably with atrocious grammar, being the product of online translator programs. (The author originally wanted Elvish, but was unable to find translations for many of the required words.)
As an example, the Earth Forces assassination team in Cry of the Falcon have no problems with assassinating a former head of state and his daughter, but draw the line at killing children, even if it risks blowing their False Flag Operation.
I Call It Vera: The swords wielded by the Gray Demons and veterans thereof.
I Have No Son: Patrick Zala says almost the exact words to Athrun at Jachin Due. Them being almost the last words Athrun hears from his father probably contributed to his subsequent attempt at blowinghimselfup with Le Creuset.
Also Rear Admiral Charles Kreitzman of the Earth Forces, in reference to his Coordinator son. This eventually leads to his death, when the embittered son rams his ship into the father's at Mendel.
Implausible Fencing Powers: Just about anyone with a sword in this 'verse, but most notably Ken himself. Attempts are made to justify his deflecting bullets in-story—at the least, his sword would survive, due to being made of a material usually used for mobile suit weapons—but the author fully acknowledges it's mostly Rule of Cool.
Laser-Guided Tykebomb: Victor Tempest aka Huckebein the Raven, is brought back to life for the express purpose of killing Ken.
The Mole: Section Nine has one, leaking very important information to the Earth Forces. We just don't know who it is yet.
My Country, Right or Wrong: A major theme of the Falconverse as a whole. Of the major characters, many struggle with the implications of remaining loyal to nations whose actions become increasingly extreme. Some decide all they can do is fight as honorably as they can themselves, while others abandon their previous allegiances entirely. A handful in between decide loyalty to the military is not the same as loyalty to the nation said military protects, and take the view that they can best protect the nation by breaking with the military. Such a viewpoint is, in fact, what kicks off the entire story.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When you get right down to it, almost every single problem Ken has was his own fault. He deserted ZAFT after accidentally creating a Wave Motion Gun capable of destroying the Earth, suffered severe injury from his former subordinate Victor Tempest out of a misplaced desire to finish the poor bastard "honorably", and almost got himself killed and his mission catastrophically failed through his unwillingness to talk things over with Kira. And, as if that weren't enough, creating the weapon to rectify the first mistake resulted in an arms race that, as of the sequel, has pretty much destroyed the technological advantages that allowed his small group to be so effective. Oops.
No Sense of Direction: Having been born in space, with little time spent on Earth, Ken is almost incapable of navigating on planet in daylight without computer assistance. This leads directly to the fic's version of Cagalli's first meeting with Athrun, as she has the bad luck of being in Ken's mobile suit when it takes damage to its navigational systems in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Averted. The Earth Alliance regains nuclear capability even earlier than canon, and isn't shy about using them.
Nuke 'em: A favored tactic of the Earth Alliance. It gets progressively less effective as the storyline progresses, however, and nearly gets Muruta Azrael removed by his own allies when he overuses the nuclear option. It does eventually get his successor executed, after a particularly spectacular failure.
Omniscient Morality License: Ken displays this at times, mostly due to his towering confidence in his own intelligence and ability. It typically does not go well, having cost him a career, almost a planet, and nearly his own life several times over.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Ken uses a gasmask & voice modulator to hide his identity in Cry of the Falcon. People close to him see through it, while it works well enough for strangers.
Also occurs just after Operation Spit Break, when damage to Preybird cuts the connection between its reactor and Ken's artificial heart (see Gamebreaking Injury). Not having informed the Archangel crew of the infirmity, he goes into cardiac arrest and nearly dies before someone who does know arrives to assist.
Pride: Along with Revenge, this particular character flaw is responsible for most of the big problems of the story.
Ramming Always Works: Twice. First, ZAFT Captain Kreitzman rams his ship into Earth Forces Admiral Kreitzman's flagship at Mendel. More prominently, Lance "Sparky" Cooper and his crew smash the Arkbird into Jachin Due during the Grand Finale.
Red Baron: Ken is known as the Butcher Bird to the Earth Forces. More commonly, though, he's known as the Grimaldi Falcon, after the battlefield where he first became widely known.
In Cry of the Falcon, apart from being hailed as ZAFT's Broken Blade, the Earth Forces proclaim Ken to be the Demon Lord.
The author considers the section of the story wherein Ken is first dubbed "Broken Blade" to be something of an Old Shame; he was reading The Lord of the Rings at the time, and allowed it to influence his writing to a degree he now wishes it hadn't.
A retcon that caused the author to nearly tear his hair out several times, and finally resulted in him having a character with the requisite knowledge state outright that Kira and Cagalli were not related. A reviewer of some note promptly assumed the author was, rather than attempting to put an end to controversy, trying to be sneaky.
The Revolution Will Not Be Villified: Essentially the entire point of Ken DiFalco's existence. This is the defining aspect of his character, and keeping the Revolution like this causes his desertion and everything that follows from it.
The Rival: Victor Tempest in the first story, Neo Roanoke, and Karen Willet in the second.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: Rather than the brief, fairly unimportant piloting opportunity she gets in canon, here Cagalli enters the fight as early as the Desert arc, acting as Ken's gunner during the battles against the Waltfeld team. Moreover, she gets her own mobile suit much earlier, acquiring the Strike Rouge in time for the Earth Alliance attack on Orb.
Rule of Funny: The riotous, eye-damaging combination of colors chosen by Oscar Goldberg for his Nova, inspired by an AC design from Armored Core that the author once came across.
Running Gag: Any time Ken enters combat outside of his mobile suit, he will get shot. Also, in Cry of the Falcon, he never gets to use his new rifle very long; it's always destroyed almost as soon as the battle begins.
Another example crosses with Black Comedy: the Earth Alliance's Fourth Fleet has been destroyed twice while attempting to carry out nuclear attacks on the PLANTs, and the Atlantic Federation's Fourth Fleet was the one humiliated in the Blockade, as shown in Soldier of ZAFT.
Ken has a tendency toward long-winded speeches. This is not a gag by itself, but rather the frequent lampshading by other characters and his own obliviousness any time someone points it out.
Schedule Slip: Once updated frequently, as of this edit over two years have passed since a chapter was published. Word of God is that a Creator Breakdown is responsible, and that updates are fully intended to resume once the author's situation stabilizes.
Shadow Archetype: Neo Roanoke's GAT-X505 Nightwing is a dark copy of Ken Di Falco's ZGMF-X 00 A Preybird, and Karen Willet's GAT-X510 Reaver is a copy of Kira Yamato's ZGMF-X 10 A Freedom.
Ship Tease: Early in Birds of a Feather, between Ken and Miriallia Haw. The former, being largely oblivious doesn't even notice until it's pointed out later. Ironically, the latter gets caught up in an assassination attempt on someone else in the sequel due to having come back to Orb for the former's wedding to Murrue Ramius.
Shoot the Hostage: When an enemy captures Ken and Preybird just before 2nd Jachin, Ken tells Kira to shoot him and kill the enemy; Kira decides to Take a Third Option. While everyone goes home safely, Ken believes that Kira doesn't have the resolve to see events to their conclusion, and Kira believes that Ken's become a Kill 'em All fanatic. The fallout from this directly leads into their abortive duel at Jachin.
Ken frequently refers to the PLANTs as "The Homeland" and to "The Revolution", ideals close to the heart of one Victor Cachat.
"The Homeland" is actually used in canon several times, particularly early in the series.
Ken destroys GENESIS by flying inside the satellite and blasting it with Preybird's antimattor cannon, an homage to the penultimate stages of various Ace Combat games.
The epilogue also contains major shoutouts to Ghost in the Shell, most notably Section Nine and the title of "Major".
Millenia Crescent in Cry of the Falcon has a prosthetic body due to crash injuries, had trouble adjusting to her body at first, is 99 percent machine, and has purple hair and amber eyes.
Section Nine's primary small arms supplier is Seburo.
Ken's repeated statement that surprise is achieved by the commander's misinterpretation of data could well be considered Honor Harrington's catchphrase.
Construction of an enormous sandwich as a light snack; a shoutout to a similar scene in Miss Midshipwoman Harrington, Honor's Lower Deck Episode in the Changer of Worlds anthology.
The "Falcon's Lessons of War" frequently quoted in Birds of a Feather were inspired by remarks made by Kevin Usher in the Honor Harrington short story From the Highlands, and many of the lessons themselves are shoutouts to various other sources.
The name of Ken's sword, Griever, is another reference to the above RPG.
The Shiva Option is a nod to the third of the Starfire books.
The nickname and eventual ship name Asmodeus, in addition to the obvious demonic reference, is specifically a Shout-Out to a perhaps obscure fantasy novel called Ariel, which is where the author originally came across the name.
Cry of the Falcon reveals Ken's personal swordsmanship style to be of the Ganryu School.
The commanding officer of the Odin is named Jason Chance, though he doesn't share his namesake's treacherous nature.
Several Earth Alliance flag officers in Cry of the Falcon are named after extras in the Starfire and Empire from the Ashes books, and Wing Commander games.
Spanner in the Works: Ken recognises the Archangel crew's potential to be this and works to add them to the plan, as well as recruiting them. True ZAFT and Shiva Option Three are intended to be this to the Earth Forces and mainline ZAFT. Kira is also nearly this to Ken's plans.
Shrouded in Myth: Ken's master Sasaki Kojirou, who uses an obvious pseudonym and appears to be more than meets the eye. His only explanation: "I wasn't always a ronin."
Super Prototype: Subverted. Ken is a pseudo-prototype of the Ultimate Coordinator project, born of the artificial womb as part of a related project with differing goals. As Cry of the Falcon reveals, however, he's degenerating on the genetic level, and was not expected to reach adulthood; he's beaten the odds, but will never be as effective as he once was, and continues to slowly slip behind the capabilities of the "final product", Kira.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: In early chapters, Ken's adoptive sister Sophia, an Earth Forces officer, repeatedly stresses that she has no space combat experience. She's an atmospheric jet fighter ace; when the Archangel breaks out the Skygraspers, Skygrasper 2 becomes Sophia's machine instead of Cagalli's - and she uses it to greater effect.
Technician Versus Performer: Discussed in-story. Being an Ultimate Coordinator, Kira (Performer) edges out Ken (Technician) in terms of natural ability and raw talent; in terms of training, tactics and experience, the advantage goes to Ken. Events prove Ken to be the superior pilot, but it's acknowledged that given enough time and experience, Kira will surpass him, blending Technician and Performer traits.
Theme Naming: Almost anything to do with the Gray Demons will have a name either avian or demonic in origin.
There Are No Therapists: Most of them seem to be on the battlefield; unfortunately, several of them are people who really need therapy themselves. The lack thereof is one of the triggering factors for the entire plot.
Warrior Poet: Ken, sometimes to extremes; possibly Justified by the Heroic BSOD he spends most of the first story recovering from. By the time the reader meets Ken, he's not entirely sane, making his forays into philosophy more understandable. Also, they sometimes serve a point, as he's additionally a...
Warrior Therapist: Several characters, including Ken himself. Sometimes backfires, though; in Cry of the Falcon, he's successfully taken Shinn under his wing—so far, at least—but in Birds of a Feather, the results of espousing a philosophy very different from the person he's talking to are shown in his duel with Kira at Jachin.
The War Sequence: The attack on Section Nine's planetary headquarters in Cry of the Falcon. Probably the most violent event in the series thus far, standing out in a 'verse usually focused on the relatively bloodless combat of Humongous Mecha battles.
What Could Have Been: In the earliest concepts of the story, Ken was an Atlantic Federation citizen living on Heliopolis as a hacker, whose only connection to the conflict at large was his Earth Forces engineer sister and having designed GENESIS for ZAFT, as an "intellectual exercise".
In the first draft of the actual published chapters, Cagalli accompanied Ken to the hangar containing his first Gundam, and boarded the Archangel at Heliopolis; this was scrapped when the author couldn't think of what to do from there.
A milder event occurs in Cry of the Falcon. Needing inside information on how Durandal thinks, Ken has Rau's recovered body revived, using him as an advisor. Nobody is happy with this.
Word of God: Occasionally invoked for clarification of plot points. Most notably with the aforementioned Retcon, when the author became frustrated over the continued debate by readers as to whether or not Kira and Cagalli were related.
You Have Failed Me: As something of a nod to the character's canonical... lack of total competence -at least compared to his predecessor from SEED- this happens to LordDjibril after a particularly spectacular debacle that not only fails to achieve its objective, but actually results in some of the Earth Forces' own units being nuked by one of their own weapons. Cue summary execution.
And the Fandom Rejoiced in-universe: Djibril's replacement is a more pragmatic villain who understands her strengths and weaknesses, and gains the respect and willing cooperation of her military forces.