There was never supposed to be just one. Even in the very beginning, when the Dragon Clan was first banished to A026 Colony and, recognizing the death sentence for what it was, began working on genetic modification to ensure the Clan's survival... even then, there was never meant to be just one. No, the Clan's scientific research was informed by centuries of philosophy and long-established tradition, and it was for that reason that we worked in pairs. Is it so surprising, to think that there was more purpose behind arranged marriages than mere political gain? We sought balance in all things, and when we created the Gundam Shenlong, the intention was to partner the machine with two pilots, a matched set, Yin and Yang. My peers on the other Colonies were trying to create the perfect soldier, but my entire goal in life was to create the perfect couple a pair of Dragon Clan children who would fight and survive, carrying our traditions and our legacy into the future.
How was I to know how horribly awry even the best of plans could go? While J and the others were frantically working to program nanites and modify genes for strength or speed or flexibility, I was working just as frantically to incorporate their research into our own program, already long established. Unlike the others, I had no intention of designing a pilot to match the Tallgeese. My plan was to create the ideal couple to carry our Clan forward, and then design the machine around them to meet their needs and carry them safely into the future. We had focused on young Wufei and Meiran, and hung our hopes on them, years before anyone began making any modifications to them. The delay was prudent -- we wanted further experimentation, even on the young Specials agent and the people he sent our way -- before we made any changes to our golden pair. And yet, the delay itself was our undoing. We had barely begun our work with the young ones when the first of the disasters struck.
I had become aware by that point that H was trying to deceive us all -- there is bad blood between us that goes all the way back to our own early days, and I was right not to trust him. When it became clear that he was trying to create not a soldier, but a manipulator, capable of controlling the others... that was when I made the first of my many mistakes. In working to counteract H's programming, I accidentally triggered an unintended side effect in young Wufei. I meant to make him strong-minded enough to be uncontrollable by H's prodigy, and instead I made him uncontrollable altogether, and unpredictable as well. He developed a distressing, uncanny ability, completely unintended by myself, to sense when he was being lied to.
Considering the secrecy with which the Clan acted, we could hardly be forthright with him, and he knew it. I am given to understand that the golden pair spent their wedding night arguing, he trying to explain they were being lied to, and she refusing to hear any of it. The rift between them was a source of great concern among the Clan elders, and that was when we launched the most desperate plan, the most disastrous plan, in an effort to get Wufei to link with Meiran in the way they should have done, to fuse into an inter-dependent pair who would stand together against the Universe.
Instead, the worst of tragedies occurred. Meiran launched into battle just as we had intended she should do, but Wufei had not linked with her and would have none of it. Worse, it was only as she lay dying that the interface finally occurred -- and so our golden pair was truly a pair for only a few brief moments.
The effect on Wufei of having, and losing, his perfect counterpart, was profound and horrible to behold. Without Meiran, he was unbalanced, a lone child instead of half of a golden pair. He requested surgery to repair his eyesight, and we used the opportunity to try to undo some of the programming, to make him self-sufficient, even to transfer some of the dependence onto Shenlong itself. It worked far better than we could have wished; he named the Gundam Nataku, and it took on an almost spiritual significance to him. To see him so unbalanced, him on whom we had pinned so many hopes... it was truly then that the Clan went into mourning, knowing that our days were numbered, and that after Wufei there would be no more Dragon Clan in the Universe.
Of the remaining candidates, the only possible matches for Wufei's programming were our more recent experiments, and none of them managed to interface with him, even in controlled sparring situations. Then there was the Specials agent, Treize, who had sought to attain precognition through genetic modification and instead ended up with a slight, limited telepathic ability. He later sent a female officer under his command, and the modifications, rather than improving her, shattered her psyche so profoundly that only one of her personalities would have been an adequate counter for Wufei. It's possible that the damage occurred because she was already beyond the age of puberty -- it was established early on that younger subjects adapted the most readily to the process. But at any rate, she was a fascinating test subject, and the Dragon Clan was in no position to refuse a willing subject when we needed all the data we could attain in order to target the modifications more accurately.
And then there was H's creation, the Controller, who was closest to Wufei in terms of the modifications that had been done on him, but even if I had been able to stomach the idea of my golden child being subservient to H's creature, Wufei himself could not tolerate manipulation. It was to his benefit that H's prodigy, and H's ZERO program, could not exert control over Wufei, and yet that was the only good any of my work seems to have done for him.
The war will end, soon, and the lives of the others will end as well. 01 will likely die of heavy metal toxicity, since the augmentations to his filtering organs were never intended to carry him further than a few years. 02 is already displaying signs of breaking down, losing what humanity is left to him as the animalistic traits become more pronounced. 03 has already lost his infamous flexibility, and it is only a matter of time until ankylosing spondylitis fuses his spine to the point of immobility. And 04, the Controller, has already gone quite, quite mad and beyond even his own control.
And what's left for Wufei? Instead of a golden bride at his side, he faces long years alone -- for unless some violence interferes he will live a long, long life. Longevity was meant to be a gift to our children from the Dragon Clan, years enough to re-establish the Clan and bring all our dreams to fruition. Instead, it is the worst of curses, for he will live to see all those he knows die in agony, and then he will live many years longer, utterly alone in the Universe, conscious for every moment that in all the teeming humanity, there is not a single soul like him, not a single match.
There was never supposed to be just one.