After losing Chihaya, the soldiers backtracked to the market. "The pilot didn't look so good, I don't think he would have made it very far." One whispered. A yowling cat deep in a dark alley drew their attention.

"Down there, let's check it out!" One headed for the alley while the other waved for their back up then followed.

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Duo cursed softly at the cat whose tail his foot managed to find. He stumbled to the side, hitting the wall, when pain shot from his abdomen. //That soldier . . . hurt something badly.// he thought.

Easing himself into a cluttered corner he felt his wings unfurl. He growled as he failed to will them away again. They arched gracefully over his back, creating an extra protective shadow.

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Clicking their flashlights on, the two soldiers searched the alley in wide sweeping arcs not taking long to read the dead end. The lights found Duo simultaneously . . . he was huddled in the corner, eyes squeezed shut, arms still clutching his sides. One light moved upward, revealing the elegant sweep of satin black wings.

"W-w-what is he?!?" One man stuttered. At the sound of his voice, Duo opened his eyes and turned to face them. One man screamed as both turned and ran.

Duo made a mad dash for freedom, hoping to urge his weakening body into the air. For a moment he thought he would make it, before one of the back-up soldiers simply reached out and grabbed his wingtip, ripping out feathers and slamming Duo into the ground.

Duo saw stars as he tried to rise, //Gotta get up, gotta get away . . .// He thought stubbornly. The soldiers fell on him like a pack of hyenas, knocking him down each time he dogged rose to his feet. His last thought as he body finally refused to follow his commands was, //Heero's going to kill me.// ". . . heero . . ." then, everything faded into darkness.

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Chihaya ran all the way back to the apartment without stopping, he rushed in and slammed the door shut behind him. He leaned against the door and gasped for breath. "Chihaya? Where's Duo?" Katgetsuya stormed around the corner, Heero following close behind him.

"Oz . . . soldiers . . . recognized him . . . at the store . . . we went to." Chihaya panted.

"You just left him there?"

"No! He ran off on his own and told me to get Heero."

Heero growled and turned away, :He shouldn't have left. He's in no condition to defend himself from soldiers." He pulled a gun from one of his packs and loaded it. He shoved the weapon into his shorts, stepped out onto the balcony and spread his wings. "Chihaya, take me to where you were."

"I can't from the air," The black angel looked at the floor. "I-I lost one of my wings in a . . . fight a while ago."

Heero stared at him a moment then shook his head. "Katgetsuya, carry him. The ground isn't the best place for him to be seen right now."

Katgetsuya nodded and gently lifted Chihaya into him arms. "Which way, Chihaya?"

"To the Markets, we went to the comic shop in the Rainbow Market."

"This way, Heero . . ." Katgetsuya leapt off the building and glided towards the uptown. "What are you going to do, Heero?"

"Find Duo. If he's been captured, I'll free him."

"Heero, the soldiers called him a Gundam pilot." Chihaya called over the wind.

"Yes, Duo and I are both Gundam pilots."

Chihaya looked shocked and confused. "But how?"

"We were assigned to watch the space colonies and got . . . recruited." Heero was watching the empty streets below them as they passed them by. Suddenly he dove down, "An Oz prisoner transport."

"Oh no!" Chihaya moaned.

Katgetsuya gave his koibito a reassuring hug. They landed on a roof and he set Chihaya down, "This is a block away from the Rainbow Market. Do you want to head there?"

Heero spotted something else and landed, "Hide your wings, quick!" He ordered, watching a woman walking down the street, carrying something hard to see in the dark.

"That's Sarah, the shopkeeper." Chihaya told him.

"Does she know about angels?"

"Not that I know of, I've never told her anything."

"Then where'd she get that feather?" Katgetsuya asked. Sarah stepped into a streetlight's glow. The item she carried was a black feather, a good three feet long.

"Baka!" Heero barked, mostly at himself. He jumped down to land in front of the older woman. She shrieked and jumped back. "Where did you get that feather?" He growled.

"From the alley, where the soldiers caught that boy. I wish I could have helped him," She shrugged helplessly, "But I can't lose my protection . . . Poor Duo." She whimpered. "He tried to get away, but he couldn't . . . He was too sick. Scared the crap out of the first two soldiers that found him though . . ." She smiled faintly at the though.

Heero's eyes narrowed dangerously unnoticed by the lady in front of him. "How did you know he was sick?"

Sarah tapped her head, "'There are more things in heaven and earth . . . than are dreamt of in your philosophy,' Hamlet, Act One, Scene Five, I'm a wee bit different in my own right. Be careful, they converted the old Charleston Naval Base to their own, but no guarantees as to if they'll keep him there . . . But you must get him out! A darlin' such as he must be free for us all to be free." She turned away, heading back the way she came. "Good night, Chihaya," she called over her shoulder, then, she was gone.

Heero stood rigid, his fists clenched as Chihaya and Katgetsuya made their way down to him. "What will we do now?" Chihaya asked.

Heero grunted, "We're going back to the apartment where I'll contact the other pilots. You'll go on to the doctors while we free Duo."

"Will Duo be all right?"

Heero glanced at the fuchsia-eyes angel, his own mask firmly in place. Inside he was screaming, outside the perfect soldier ruled. "Knowing Oz, probably not, but he'll recover, he lways has."

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Wufei had just begun to settle into his meditation when the phone rang. Something inside him told him to pay attention, so he listened as Quatre moved for the phone in the other room. The muffled speech was hard to make out but Wufei managed.

"Hello?" Quatre murmured, "Heero! What a surprise! Any news? Wha . . ." Quatre was cut off and the room seemed silent. Trowa opened the door and murmured something. Quatre shushed him sharply, "Hai, Heero, I was listening."

Wufei opened his eyes and rose, heading for the other room. Trowa had his arms wrapped around Quatre's waist as the other boy listened carefully with a distraught statement. "I understand, we'll be there soon." He hung up the phone and looked at his fellow pilots. "Duo's been captured."

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C&C is welcome, adored actually, but I'll live if I don't get any ^_~

 

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