In the Gundam Seed series...
Athrun Zala is a Coordinator, and was a member of the elite Rau Le Creuset ZAFT special forces team, which consisted mostly of young elite pilots, known as 'Reds'. They wore the special red uniform that meant that they had graduated at the top of their military cadet class. He is also the son of Patrick Zala, who later became Chairman of ZAFT. Athrun joined the ZAFT militia mainly for vengeance for his mother's death in the Bloody Valentine Incident, which was caused by the Earth Alliance.
He was engaged to ZAFT pop idol Lacus Clyne through parental arrangements, and did have an honest friendly affection for her.
As Earth Alliance developed five secret mobile suits to counter against ZAFT's superior military technology, ZAFT planned and executed a raid to steal these five new units, located in a secret military base on the neutral colony, Heliopolis. The mission failed to steal all five units, but Athrun successfully took the GAT-X303 Aegis prototype unit. During the raid he met with his best friend since childhood, Kira Yamato, a Heliopolis civilian. Kira was forced to pilot the GAT-X105 Strike to protect his friends on Earth as well as other civilians. Having piloted the new secret unit, Kira and his friends were forced to embark on the Earth Alliance Archangel ship and enlist in their military, thus Kira engages with Athrun in battle several times thereafter.
Athrun was often seen to be in turmoil over the fact that he must fight with Kira as an enemy. He attempted (and failed) to convince Kira to join ZAFT, since Kira is in fact a Coordinator as well. However, Kira gave himself the responsibility of protecting his friends who were on the Archangel ship with him. Although Kira was thrown into the war by chance, he too did not desire to fight with Athrun. The two friends often thought of one another and their unfortunate circumstance.
During this time Athrun was marooned on an island along with another civilian pilot named Cagalli Yula Athha who had been aboard the Archangel. This would prove to be a fateful meeting since Cagalli was also friends with Kira, although neither knew of this fact yet. The two were initially enemies and their opposing view points pertaining to the war strongly clashed during their first encounter. Yet listening to each other's opinions seemed to cause an inner revelation on both sides. They eventually called a truce with one another and were later rescued off the island. However, as they parted there was more fondness between them. Athrun would later discover that Cagalli was actually no ordinary civilian, but the Princess of the neutral Earth nation of Orb.
Eventually, Athrun and Kira meet in combat once again in their greatest conflict. In their final clash Athrun, maddened with grief over the death of his comrade Nicol Amalfi at the hands of Kira, seized the Strike Gundam with his Aegis and self-destructed it and thus destroyed the Strike along with it. Kira was believed by everyone to be dead, but later on in the series it is revealed that he is in fact alive. Both Kira and Athrun survived the explosion, and as chance would have it, an injured Athrun was discovered on a beach after the battle by Orb's princess Cagalli Yula Athha for medical treatment.
After being released back to ZAFT, Athrun was then chosen to be under the direct command of the ZAFT Supreme Council and assigned to pilot the newly developed ZGMF-X09A Justice. He was ordered to track and retrieve the ZGMF-X10A Freedom unit, which had been stolen by a fully recovered Kira Yamato. Athrun was having trouble accepting the fact that Lacus was a traitor, because she was not only involved in the theft of the Freedom, but was also accused of selling ZAFT out to the Earth Alliance. Athrun was eventually able to find Lacus who explained that Kira was alive and the Freedom's new pilot. Lacus also makes a great impact on Athrun as she tells him to think about what he should really be fighting for. Instead of merely following his father's orders or feeling bound to his military duty, he should think for himself and determine what he believes to be right. Lacus then tells Athrun that he should have a serious heart to heart with his friend Kira. Afterwards Athrun eventually finds Kira, and the two friends call a truce in order to talk out their differences. They both realize that niether of them want to be each other's enemy anymore. Athrun and Kira both agreed that they want to end the Bloody Valentine War, because it was more imporant than anything else. In order to do this, both friends would have to abandon their nation's militaries. Uncertain at first, Athrun makes no promises, but aids Kira during the Fall of Orb, instead of battling him and retreiving the Freedom Gundam like he was originally ordered to do. Athrun then follows the survivors of the battle, along with Kira, into space.
Before deciding to join the Resistance Group with Lacus, Kira and the others in order to end the war, Athrun determines that he wants to talk to his father, Chairman Patrick Zala first. He wants to know of his father's true intentions, whether for good or evil. So Athrun returns home to the PLANTs and talks to his father about ZAFT's participation in the current war. Athrun's father reveals to him that ZAFT's true intentions are to exterminate all of the Naturals in this genocidal war. Athrun is shocked and angered by his father's revelation and is arrested for refusing to reveal the location of the Justice and the Freedom Gundams. However, Athrun is later freed by Martin DeCosta (under Lacus's command) and they escaped to the support ship Eternal where Lacus is waiting.
After his ordeal Athrun defected from ZAFT, abandoning his allegiance to them. He then joins the newly formed Resistance Group called the Clyne Faction. Kira and Cagalli are also part of Lacus's Resistance Group (the Clyne Faction).
Along with Kira and the Clyne Faction, Athrun was instrumental in ending the Bloody Valentine War. Desiring peace, Athrun fought along side Kira and Cagalli in order to end the war between ZAFT and the Earth Forces. In the final battle he personally destroyed the GENESIS superweapon, by detonating the nuclear-powered Justice inside it. He was able to survive this detonation without sacrificing his own life because Cagalli reminded him that he needed to stop running and have the courage to live.
Two years later, Athrun reappears in Gundam Seed Destiny...
After the war, Athrun left ZAFT and moved to Orb. He lived by Cagalli's side and became her bodygaurd, under the pseudonym "Alex Dino". During the Armory One Incident he was present in PLANT as Cagalli's bodyguard, and got involved in the fighting to retake the stolen units. He later joined the battleship Minerva and helped fighting against the terrorists in the Junius-7 Colony Drop. He and Cagalli then desembarked Minerva at Orb.
In the turmoil preceding the declaration of the Second Bloody Valentine War he returned back to ZAFT to understand the motivations of ZAFT. Here he met with Chairman Dullindal, who enlisted him back into ZAFT forces, and appointed him with the highest elite-force assignment, FAITH. Athrun had also assigned the new unit ZGMF-X23S Saviour, and given total freedom of action. With Saviour he returned to Earth and joined Minerva in the battle against the Earth Alliance, now allied with Orb.
Not long after watching the epic battle between Shinn and Kira, resulting in the destruction of the ZGMF-X10A Freedom Gundam and the near sinking of Archangel courtesy of the Minerva's Tannhäuser Positron Cannon, the distraught and disillusioned Athrun also realized that Chairman Dullindal and Rey Za Burrel were preparing to frame him as traitor, having failed to fully conscript him to their cause. Athrun escaped from ZAFT's Gibraltar base in a stolen blue ZGMF-2000 GOUF Ignited mobile suit with the help of Minerva CIC officer and gifted hacker Meyrin Hawke. Fearing Athrun and Meyrin might expose ZAFT's top military secrets and its plan to attack the Logos headquarters Heaven's Base, Chairman Dullindal ordered Rey Za Burrel and Shinn Asuka to pursue the defected Athrun with their respective new units. Although Shinn was shocked and reluctant to shoot at first, he eventually went into SEED mode and destroy the GOUF Ignited unit, presumably killing both Athrun and Meyrin. Athrun and Meyrin were last seen injured and unconscious and taken in by a defected EA ship led by Ledonir Kisaka, the former Kusanagi co-captain in the First Bloody Valentine War. Athrun then recuperated from his ordeal on the Archangel, watched over by his old friends, Kira and Cagalli.
At the end of Gundam Seed Destiny Phase 42, Lacus Clyne's words got through to Athrun who regained his confidence and decided to launch off with Infinite Justice, wearing an Orb pilot suit to join the battle.
Athrun fastidiously went into battle despite not yet recovering from his wounds, knowing he had to assist Kira who had been fighting the Legend and the Destiny all by himself. He arrived just as Shinn had gained a target lock on Strike Freedom and was about to fire Destiny's long range beam cannon. Athrun suddenly appeared in the Infinite Justice and threw two beam boomerangs to distract Shinn from firing on the momentarily vulnerable Strike-Freedom. Athrun then rammed Infinite Justice into Destiny. Shinn was both surprised and angry that Athrun survived their last encounter where Athrun was supposedly killed when his blue GOUF fell into the water and appeared to have exploded after Shinn had stabbed it in the torso with his anti-ship sword. Athrun demanded that Shinn stop attacking Orb and questioned his motives for war. Urged by Rey to attack and convinced that Athrun was indeed a ZAFT traitor, Shinn charged at Athrun with one of his beam boomerang acting as a beam saber, and then threw both beam boomerangs at Athrun. Both beam boomerangs were knocked away by Athrun's leg beam blades and beam shield. Shinn then went SEED mode and charged again at Athrun with his Arondight anti-ship sword. Athrun also went SEED mode (for the first time in Gundam Seed Destiny) brandishing Infinite Justice's joined double beam sabers to answer Shinn's anti-ship sword and sliced off Destiny's right arm, causing a small explosion. Shinn was stunned at having been bested for the first time ever in melee combat.
After the ZAFT forces retreated, Athrun lost consciousness and lost control of Infinite Justice and was falling down. Kira in Strike Freedom caught Infinite Justice in mid-air and prevented a crash. When Kira removed Athrun's helmet and flight suit, Athrun's wounds had re-opened and was bleeding profusely. Kira then ordered a stretcher to bring Athrun to Archangel's sick bay. Since then, Athrun was still recovering from his injuries under the care of Meyrin Hawke.
Following Lord Djibril's attack on the PLANTS using the Requiem beam, Minerva returned to space on Chairman Dullindal's orders. There will be another conflict between ZAFT and Lord Djibril in space. Athrun, Kira, Lacus, Murrue, and now Neo (aka Mwu La Flaga) will also go to space aboard Archangel and vowed to stop Chairman Dullindal from implementing his "Destiny Plan," a radical method by using genetics to eliminate wars and conflicts among the human race. Meanwhile Cagalli would be back in the political office sorting out the war and the issues that plagued ORB while she had been away.
While in space, Athrun with assistance from Kira destroyed the first relay station from the requiem. However it was discovered that the requiem had yet another relay station it could use and thus they Clyne faction decided put all there resources in an effort to destroy the requiem itself before it would fire on Orb and annihilate it.
In the final battle Athrun came upon Lunamaria in her Impulse. He had no intention of fighting her, however she persisted in her efforts to engage him, forcing Athrun to disable her mobile suit in a short lived battle between the two. Shinn arrived on the scene and naturally believed that Athrun was attacking Lunamaria, his love interest, indiscriminately. Thus the scene was set, the former ZAFT ace vs the current one. The two fearsome warriors went all out as they fought in a prolonged duel. However as the battle progressed it became evident as to who would emerge victorious. Athrun took everything Shinn had and slowly began to disarm him, quite literally. He did so despite Shinn being in SEED mode while he himself was not. In one final burst of rage, Shinn charged in at Athrun. Lunamaria suddenly appeared in between them in an attempt to stop the two from fighting but Shinn did not acknowledge her. Athrun went into SEED mode and halted Shinn's final assault destroying both of the Destiny’s arms as a result. Following that, he destroyed one of the Destiny’s legs. The resulting explosion propelled Shinn downwards onto the moon’s surface, and essentially disabled the Destiny all-together. Athrun left the badly damaged Destiny and Impulse to each other, seeing as they were no longer a threat.
Shortly there after, Athrun utilized the multiple beam cutters on the Fatum-01 backpack to disable the Minerva's sublight engines thus rendering it dead in space.
Athrun, along with Neo in the Akatsuki, made their way past ZAFT's last defensive front and both penetrated the Requiems positron deflector. At the very last second, just as the weapon was about to fire, together they destroyed the core of the Requiem. The threat to Orb was eliminated.
His final act in the battle was to board the MESSIAH and ensure Kira's safety. He arrived just in time to see Dullindal get shot by Rey Za Burrel. He and Kira both got off the MESSIAH safely afterwards.
Later, when retreat flares are fired from all surviving ships, Athrun rescued Shinn and Lunamaria in the Infinite Justice. He helped Shinn make peace with Kira after the war.
Athrun has a talent for mechanical tinkering, and has created numerous robot pets for his friends and acquaintances. The multitude of multicolored Haros that fill the Clyne residence are Athrun's creations, as is Kira's mechanical pet, Tori.
Genetic type: Coordinator
Age: 15, 18 (in SEED Destiny)
DOB: October 29, Cosmic Era 55
Family: Father (Patrick Zala, deceased at the end of Gundam SEED), Mother (Lenore Zala, deceased)
Blood type: O
Height: 170 cm (SEED), 174cm (Destiny)
Weight: 60kg (Destiny)
Rank: Colonel (Orb military forces) [Destiny Phase-45 ]
Mobile Suits: GAT-X303 Aegis, ZGMF-X09A Justice, ZGMF-1000/M Blaze Zaku Warrior, ZGMF-X23S Saviour, ZGMF-2000 GOUF Ignited, ZGMF-X19A Infinite Justice
Love Interest: Lacus Clyne (former), Cagalli Yula Athha, Meyrin Hawke
- Athrun's engagement to Lacus Clyne was ended in Episode 36 by his father Patrick Zala (the Chairman considered her a traitor to ZAFT). However, in the sequel, Gundam Seed Destiny, the new Chairman Gilbert Dullindal makes it clear that "officially" his engagement to Lacus was not known to be over.
- Athrun was honored with the medal, "The Order of the Nebula" and promoted to the Special Forces as a top gun pilot.
- Athrun used to tutor Kira in school on the moon when they were little (information from Suit CD).