2-20-2001

Title: Duo of Loxley {Part 1}
Author: Eternal Treasure
Feedback: Yes, oh gods, yes, yes, YES!
Archive: Oh yes, please. Tell me where you're taking it first though.
Rating: NC-17
Parings: *scratching her head* Errr, that would be telling rather early in the game...
Warnings: Yaoi. Lemon. I don't think much violence, OOC, AU. If you're gonna flame make it for something worthwhile like grammar or spelling or plot.
Disclaimer: Oh gods! I WISH this were mine! But it's not. I don't own any of these bishonen or the TV series they are in.

 

"Oooof!" Duo squealed as the whole ship shuddered around him. Clasping his hands about his middle, he swallowed and valiantly tried to keep down his lunch. The hollow thud of the docking clamps was like a punch in the stomach after so long in the peaceful calm of space. Couldn't they fix that or something?

Groaning softly, Duo tore loose his plastic mesh seat restraints and extended into a full, bone-popping stretch. After a few seconds, he appeared to collapse in on himself as he sank to the floor of his cabin. Like a child, he pressed his hands to the dura- glass that showed the panoramic view of his home. Soon he'd be shot down to the surface and plunge into the transport tubes in those crystal clear waters.

A soft sigh of wonder and appreciation burst from his lips, "Home," His whisper gently fogged the glass and traced the outlines of his dainty fingers. He exhaled harder and pulled his hands away, smiling at their outlines. Unable to help himself, he exploded into motion, clothes swirling around his head as he changed into his Galactic Army uniform. His parents would be so proud when they saw! With an air of great dignity, he stood before his small mirror and pinned on his rank insignia. Pulling the mass of silvery brown hair off his neck, he quickly twisted it into a braid and stuck his tongue out at his reflection as he tied the clip on the end. He'd been the most highly decorated member of his unit and now they wanted him to be second in command of a Starship!

A Starship!

Duo collapsed against a wall, jacket pressed to his chest. Imagine what he could do on that kind of salary! Sure he'd be spending most of his time on the ship, but what a credit balance! He'd never been poor. Not really. Since he'd met Solo a few years back. His friend was only a few years older than he was, but he'd shouldered a LOT of the burden paying the two of them though the Academy.

Duo sighed and shrugged into his jacket. They had struggled so hard for everything they had ever had. Now everyone who had put them down would look at them and see how well they'd done. They'd told Duo he wouldn't be able to make anything of his life. Tried every trick to keep him from succeeding.

Duo's face twisted in remembrance, "You're too small," he said in a prissy, scolding voice, "You're too young. Too disadvantaged. You can't POSSIBLY be smart enough. What's up with that hair? Did you dye those silver streaks in or are they a genetic defect or something?"

His temper flared. "Well, who the fuck cares what you think anyhow!" he grabbed his waist length braid and shook it at the mirror across the room, "I like my hair first of all and--"

"AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!"

The agonized scream wrenched him out of his bitter reflections. Without thinking, Duo ran to his door and slapped the controls, peering out into the hallway. Biting back a cry of rage and loss, he flung himself forward, but was dusted back by a spray of laser fire. Unable to make his way further out, he was forced to dive back inside his room and punch in a code to close and lock the door. Immediately, there was the hammering crash of a phonon cannon against the heavy metal. Engaging the fire shield, he smashed his fist into the controls, rendering them useless so that no one could override his commands. Tears already clouding his vision, Duo dove across the room to where his pulse laser hung from his belt near the bed.

A few seconds after his hand touched the metal casing, the door to his room whooshed open, blaster marks blackening the edges. Unable to dive for cover, Duo squeezed off a few rounds, clearing his door of assailants before finally rolling behind his bed.

"Solo," he raged silently, mouth wide open, dragging in deep breaths, "Gods, no!"

The hail of blue fire screaming past his head made all the air in his chest come out in a shrill of terror. Sobbing, he flattened himself to the floor and peered under the smoking bed skirt. Those were Home Guard uniforms.

"Masaka!" he gasped. Why were they attacking him? Why had they killed Solo? The vision of his dearest friend lying on the cold metal floor, brown eyes staring. The HUGE gaping wound in his chest.

"Drop your weapon, traitor!" A cold, impersonal voice snapped.

Duo blinked. A droid? In the Home Guard? He gave a violent start. TRAITOR?! "The hell?" he gasped aloud. A rain of fire beat around his position again and Duo felt the searing heat of a blaster bolt when it smashed into the floor near his hand.

"This is your last chance," the voice ordered again, the tone almost bored this time.

Duo bit his lip until it bled. The warm taste of blood brought him out of his stunned daze and an angry animal snarl rumbled in his chest. Howling madly, he got up on his knees and with precision put a bolt of hot fire tearing into the guards' chests. Hot white fluid pumped out of the gaping wounds and they tumbled over like cards.

"Ha! Still got the same old weak spot ya had in boot camp!" he cried triumphantly. "This is for Solo you sorry fucks!" he screamed, beyond all caring. There was no way he'd survive, already a forest of droids was taking the place of those he'd mowed down. Squinting tears away angrily, he kept firing, the blaster in his hands getting hot as it's power pack reached critical peaks.

But suddenly they weren't shooting back at his anymore. The only sound was his blaster, his sobs, and the metallic clicking of a cheap android's brain at work. They fell in silence, and their bodies grew into a pile getting closer and closer to his hiding spot. A new movement at the door. A huge, white droid stepped inside the room, brushing away the bodies like deadwood. It's silver eyes shot open and Duo's blaster quieted in his limp grasp. It was a Keeper. What was one of them doing away from the Within?

"Young man," it said in it's clear musical voice, "You will come with me."

Shaking with reaction, Duo slid down further between the bed and the wall, "Go to Hell."

Unperturbed, the droid worked its way closer, "Young man, you are needed. We have been awaiting you return. You should never have left us," That lyrical voice hardened into ice, "You will comply."

"Fuck that noise!" he shouted, "What the fuck's going on around here?"

"You are needed, child," it repeated. With a swift motion it picked up the bed and broke it into bits of plastic and metal. "Come to us." Ignoring his terrified cry, it plucked Duo up by the back of his shirt and dragged him to his feet.

Fighting wildly, he sent blast after blast into it's blank face. At it's limits, the blaster gave off a high pitched whine. Freezing in horror, Duo didn't resist when the droid pulled it out of his hands and tossed it behind them. To his surprise, the droid shielded him with it's own body and sank to the floor, pressing it's hands to Duo's ears to protect them. When the small explosion was over, Duo found himself wedged to the floor, the droid's dead hands effectively pinning his head in place. Before he could do more than blink, another droid had hold of him. Grabbing a handful of his hair, it pried him out of the grasp of it's counterpart and dragged him screaming out of his room.

***********************

Quatre scowled at the glowing face of his watch. It had taken him longer than he'd expected to disable the monitors in the room below and he had to hurry before the guard on the door changed shifts. Fumbling at his belt, he removed a small utility pack and pulled free the vibro blade and the screwdriver.

"Thank you Solar Cub Scouts," he mouthed silently. Gently, he worked the protective casing away from each screw, careful not to make a sound. He could feel the seconds ticking away with every beat of his heart. Sweat dripped down his face as he finally got the screws loose and slipped them out of their holes. So he nearly dropped the huge register into the room as it slipped through his fingers. Gracelessly falling out of the ventilation shaft to catch it, he nearly knocked himself unconscious by landing on his head.

Which he managed to do almost silently.

Thank the Gods for small favors.

Grumbling under his breath, he took stock on his situation. ~Alright, I made it into your damn clinic? Ah, more tubes. And look! Fifty of `em. I always get the big rooms~ He continued on in this way, griping and complaining until he made it to the icy cylinders.

Now he just had to find the right one. Wiping away at the condensation on the outside of the duraglass, Quatre peered at the id numbers on each cold storage capsule. After a few seconds of frustrated searching he found what he was looking for right in front.

"Convenient twenty four hour shopping," he chuckled. Just like those old commercials. "Lesse," he bent over the tube, carefully examining the numbers for confirmation. "195B-1FK6," Quatre murmured to himself, "Nineteen years old, resides in sector 1F. Duo Loxley, future second in command to the Starship Ananda* and one hell of a commodity."

Quatre closed his eyes and held his hands in front of the keypad. Behind his closed eyelids, he saw a pair of slender, white hands tapping out a command sequence. Without opening his eyes, he mimicked the rapid movements, randomly pressing buttons. The interior of the tube turned red as it slowly "defrosted" the young man inside.

"Come on." He muttered, opening his eyes and looking at his watch. Not much time left. He looked back down into the tube. He didn't think he'd have been able to stand being put in cold freeze. It was like being asleep, but awake at the same time. He'd also been told by the people who went through it that it was like a hell of total sensory depravation. Except for the cold. People who woke up from it always babbled about how cold they were. Some weren't even sane.

He wearily hoped that Duo was. He'd never get him back otherwise and then all this effort would be to waste. If he couldn't come with him he couldn't be left behind and he hated the thought of shooting him right after saving his life. Sure he'd probably die later by his Quatre's, but...

Quatre grunted sourly. All those years in medical school and this is what he ended up doing with his life. Killing the very people who needed him most.

The lid of the tube slid back with a startlingly loud hiss and Quatre briefly struggled to keep his heart from beating out of his chest onto the floor. Occupational hazard that. Rushing over to the door, he put his ear against it, one hand drawing out his sidearm. Nothing. Fighting back a loud gasp of relief, he walked back to the tube and typed furiously at the keys to jump start Duo's life functions; heart, kidneys, lungs, the works. Waving away the cold steam, he reached inside to feel for his pulse.

A soft hand touched Duo's cheek and he stirred under its gentle touch. A myriad of aches and pains stroked his senses and he hissed in surprise. The hand immediately stilled and he felt two fingers pressed against his lips. Duo nodded and blinked to clear his eyes. To his surprise, nothing but the same darkness greeted him. The hands moved swiftly over his body unfastening the soft straps that held him down. Every time a strap was loosened, the feeling in the restrained limb returned. Clamping his teeth, he bit back angry protests at the tingling pain that accompanied the reinstatement of blood circulation.

~They put me in fucking cold freeze!~ he bitched in silence. A shiver of dread coursed through his, ~I could have died! The technology has hardly been tested. No wonder I can't see!~ Warm lips settled over his and he tensed in fury. ~The bloody hell?!~

The hands began forcefully sliding the nutrient tubes out of his arms and legs and the shocky cries that he couldn't possibly have held inside vanished in the tender kisses. With numb, shaking fingers, he helped peel off the sticky monitor pads and sat up so he could turn his face away. A strong arm encircled his waist and lifted him clear of the slick siding. Duo caught at his rescuer's arms and clung to stay upright.

"I didn't know that cold freeze could turn your hair silver. First time I've ever seen it." Quatre commented. Then he looked the man in his arms over quickly and shook his head, "Did you shrink or did you lie on your military application about being nineteen?"

Duo grunted, too tired to be angry. His vision was dark brown with bright sparkles around the edges. At least he knew he wasn't dreaming. His imagination wasn't good enough to come up with all this pain. Also, his Prince Charming would never be so rude. He felt his hands pulled up and a thin, but warming robe was tumbled over his head to trail down over his toes. He only just now realized how cold he was...or how naked..or how damned COLD! It was almost unbearable! Without shame, he burrowed into his rescuer's arms. Feeling weak, wretched and angry beyond belief, he started to cry. Fresh tears rolled down his cheeks like ice water.

Quatre felt him begin to shiver and quickly punched in the sequence to close the tube and start up fake life signs inside. If they were lucky, the scientists wouldn't realize he was gone for a few days yet. People with as many gifts and qualities as the small man in his arms had went to those with the biggest wallets. He was sure that the bidding wasn't finished yet. It should be a few days until someone tried to open the tube.

Pressing his warm cheek to his, he whispered softly in his ear, "Don't speak, I'm trying to get you out of here before the shift change outside. Follow my instructions carefully and I'll get you someplace safe and warm."

When Duo nodded, freezing drops of water from his hair splattered against Quatre's face. He lead Duo over the opening in the shaft and instructed him to hold his hands above his head. First, Quatre made his own way back inside and then he reached down and hauled Duo up after. It was quite a stretch, Duo was almost tiny. After securing the register carefully, making sure that it was fitted exactly as it should be, he pulled out his multi-tool again and welded the protective covers of the screws back on before leading the way.

Duo was clumsy at first, but he slowly got the hang of inching along on his elbows and pushing with his toes. Actually, he had an easier way to go because he was smaller and much more slender than Quatre was. While Quatre wasn't exactly tall, he was quite sturdily built despite his somewhat delicate appearance. Duo was a reed. He was supposed to be second in command for a new Starship?

Duo occasionally froze as a trembling fit took hold of him and Quatre ended up having to talk him through it to get him moving again.

"It's not that far," he encouraged, "When your fingers and hands start shaking, let me know and we'll slow down. It's best for you to keep moving though." It was quite a distance to his safe area, but whenever he thought to give Duo pauses to rest, the other man would push him from behind to keep going, taking his advice to heart. When they finally made it through seeming miles of metal, Quatre was the one who was exhausted and he had a measure of respect for Duo's determination.

Quatre's nose twitched as it caught the aroma of food cooking and he followed his nose until they got to the kitchens. Smiling at the delicious smells, he lead his past until they got to the bay where they grew the greens necessary for oxygen and food in space travel. It took him a moment or two to remove the heavy metal grate, but when they finally got inside, he saw Duo smiling eagerly at the warmth inside. Letting him scramble in after him, he affixed the grate again and scurried across the blanketed floor to his side.

"We can talk here," he told his softly, "Just not very loud. This is an old storage bin where roots used to be stored. That's why it's warm and dry here. The heating ducts to the kitchen keep it heated and the blasts of air mask sound."

"Ingenious," Duo replied softly, huddled down with his hands wrapped around his knees. He felt absolutely wretched and bruised and.... well... pissed off! Oh, Solo!

"When they converted this building as a docking station for spacecraft," Quatre continued, Unperturbed by his fastidiousness, "they closed it off like some other places to be remodeled. Then there was the plague so they never got around to it." He pulled out a syringe and a bottle and set them aside for later.

"There was a plague?" Duo asked in alarm, unfolding himself from his dejected pose.

"Shush," he admonished, "Not so loud, there are people working on the other side of that wall."

"The plague." Duo repeated in a softer voice.

"It must have been some kind of chemical weapon." he spoke
the words by rote, having gone over the entire lecture before. He even knew what kinds of questions Duo would ask. Noticing that his hair was dripping and wetting his robe, he grabbed a woolen blanket from his pile and vigorously attacked the mass on top of his head. Ignoring Duo's indignant growls, he went on. "At first we thought it was just a benign virus. People only got headaches and fever."

"Stop it! I can handle it myself," Duo snarled indignantly, "Get off!"

"I've been training as a doctor for over five years now and I'm quite familiar with the process of cold freeze," he snapped, "Your system is not over the shock yet. You know you can't even hold the blanket or you would have done this for yourself rather than drip. So be still!"

Snarling, Duo subsided and stopped struggling. Quatre grinned down at the top of his head and draped the blanket over his shoulders. Picking up a comb from his pile, he set to work on his long hair. "I'm just trying to make you more comfortable while we talk."

"Finish what you were saying," Duo said in icy tones. "And quit it with the comb, you'll tear my hair."

Grumbling to himself about simple politeness, Quatre none the less dropped the comb and picked up a tiny brush, gently untangling a knot and smoothing it out. He was becoming fascinated with the texture of his hair as it glided between his fingers, "The symptoms never went beyond mere discomfort for some, but female who encountered the virus was rendered sterile. Young men too."

"Just sterile?" he questioned, face crinkling up, "It didn't kill anyone?"

He raised an eyebrow. He took that piece of information too calmly. Just sterile? "Not directly," Quatre said slowly, "The only women not affected by the virus were those just before their first menses and the women who were or had recently been pregnant. All of them were gathered up and sent to the main Complex. At first things were okay for them, but recently things have gotten out of hand. Those who refused the summons had been gang raped on the streets, men forcibly trying to get them pregnant. In the Complex it was little better, the women had little choice of their partners and always they had to keep giving birth to stay fertile. Some, of course, died from repeated birthing."

"Where was the Queen during all this?' Duo demanded.

"Oh, she made state appearances, but never made any formal statements. She just kept passing law after law to "protect" the female citizens," He shrugged, "For some reason, she had a breakdown at a public audience and was carried off. That's the last anyone's seen of her. Prince Miliardo rules in her place now."

"How long has this been going on?" Duo asked breathlessly.

"Almost since most of the Home Guard went out to squelch a little skirmish on our nearest borders and got involved in the teensy matter of an extended war." Quatre said in an ironic tone.

Duo supposed that those in the medical profession tended to get angry when things like wars broke out. Then he flinched, "Nine fucking years?" he squealed, only just remembering to lower his voice, "But-"

"And the Queen's been ill for over a year now." Quatre finished.

Duo was silent for so long that he almost repeated his sentence a little louder. Then, "The HELL?" For a miracle, he shouted so hard that his voice came out as a choked grunt. He recovered, "Why wasn't this information--"

"Oh yeah," Quatre said with heavy sarcasm, "Tell everyone that the leader of our world is at death's doorstep in a wartime situation. That wouldn't cause too much loss of morale. I assure you that only the higher ups know about it...and those are the ones you have to watch for."

Before Duo could open his mouth, Quatre neatly braided his hair into one thick plait and took the blanket away. Duo gasped and rubbed his arms for warmth. "Here, let me help you into something warmer," Quatre whispered, kneeling in front of him.

Duo shivered. This not being able to see where he was all the time was unnerving. It's not that he was afraid, at least not for his life, far from it. He would deal with the horrors of possibly being blind soon enough. He was uneasy with this man and this situation and what in the HELL had he walked into here? And what did he mean about his superiors in the Home Guard?

Before Duo knew what he was about, Quatre had gathered the robe from where he had tucked it under his feet to keep his toes warm and bunched it about his waist. He wanted to shout at him, shove him or at least hit him with a turbolift, but his teeth were suddenly chattering so hard that he couldn't talk and his whole body went stiff.

"Easy, easy..." Quatre murmured. Pulling the robe over his head, he let Duo clutch it in front of himself and kept his eyes decently averted as he slipped a heavier, thicker and more importantly, drier robe over his head. Forcing Duo's rigid arms into the appropriate places and straightening it out, he wrapped another blanket around him and leaned his against one of the warm walls.

"As soon as we finish a little business, I'll get you something warm to eat," Quatre promised. Choosing from several pairs of thick and fuzzy slipper-socks, he slipped one of the smallest pairs onto Duo's feet and with a gentleness that surprised him, tucked his feet into the blanket.

"Business?" Duo chattered. He realized that he had never once opened his eyes since he'd brought his here. Oh, but he was afraid to. What would he do if he were really blind?

"Can I take a look at your eyes, first of all?" Quatre asked suddenly, as if reading his mind. At the fear blanching Duo's features, he leaned forward and touched his knee, "Hey, I said that I was med. That's why they assigned me to this job. Please?"

Duo mumbled something inaudible. Then softly, "Yes, please. Will the fuzziness go away?" There was a note of desperate pleading in his voice.

"Oh yes," Quatre assured his, "You weren't under that long or else your symptoms would have been more severe, Duo. Open your eyes." he dug into his pocket for his penlight.

Squinting tearfully, Duo did his best to obey, "You know my name, but I don't know yours."

"Quatre," he replied absently, then he frowned, "Wider please, I know it stings, but I need to do this to see if there's any damage. There will be more tests later."

Duo opened his eyes fully and stared at Quatre's blurry features. The other man was a hazy wash of gold. "Why did you help me Quatre?" he wanted to know.

He sighed, "You are needed."

At the near echo of the droid's final words just before it gassed him, Duo shuddered. He was remembering a few things about that encounter that he'd rather have forgotten. He pondered his words and tapped his lips pensively. "Okay, back to this plague. You talk about all this as if it were in the past."

Quatre allowed a small smile to cross his face, watching Duo's glazed eyes follow the tiny point of light, "You do dance around subjects. Yes, after a few women managed to dodge the droids and free themselves from the centers, the Prime Minister ordered that all women captured were to be put into cold freeze. I've seen them auctioned off for high sums of money. We're trying to find out why. They're not being used in pleasure houses or anything and the rich men who buy them dally with women who have been rendered sterile with the virus."

"I know why." Duo said, his mouth set in a grim line, "Before they gassed me and shoved me into the tube, I watched them cut up this poor girl on a table across the room from me. It looked to me like they were taking out her reproductive organs. And all her other organs with them. She was still alive and in deep freeze."

Quatre's hand froze and the light dropped from his fingers. "Are you sure about that?" he demanded harshly, shaking him when he didn't answer fast enough. Duo stopped him with the expedient of gripping his pinkie finger and pulling it back almost to the breaking point. Quatre promptly let go and glared at him.

"I'm very sure." Duo said. "They're using those women as organ donors for the wealthy. I guess they figure that they don't need women to make babies. Just their ovaries. You know they can clone and grow people in labs now." Reaching down, he picked up the still glowing penlight and switched it off before handing it to Quatre. Closing his eyes stung, but the darkness felt good too.

Quatre stood and got a flat case off of a shelf. Opening it, he pulled out a small dropper and replaced his penlight inside. Carefully, he added the medicated drops to Duo's eyes and slid a sleeping mask over his head. "By the morning, you should be okay."

"Thank you, Quatre." his sudden smile made the young intern's pulse quicken

"You're welcome," he grinned foolishly, "I--"

"Oh no!" Duo gasped, clutching his blanket tighter, "How is the virus passed?"

"It's airborne, but-"

"I'll be sick too?" Duo's voice rose in panic, "I don't want to be sterile! Not that I want kids anytime soon, but I don't want to be sterile!"

"Would you prefer the alternative?" Quatre asked softly. Again, before he could react, he gathered him into his arms and held him there comfortingly. "After you speak with Rashid tomorrow, you'll be given an antidote. With luck, you'll be immune before any damage occurs."

"Are you sure?" his voice quavered slightly and Quatre squeezed him tighter.

And he lied through his teeth, "I'm positive."

"I want children someday." Duo's whisper was soft.

Quatre didn't answer, but held him tightly while his breathing got deeper and more rhythmic. Finally Duo fell into an exhausted sleep. Unable to help sighing, Quatre readied the syringe and smeared a dab of cleansing solution on his arm. He stared at the syringe for a few seconds longer and then slid it into a vein at the crook of Duo's elbow.

Quatre stared down into his face, memorizing it, long enough to see Duo's forehead crinkle in discomfort before he opened the man's mouth and shoved the gag between his teeth. After tying it in place, he folded Duo's arms on his chest and bound his wrists to his elbows. Binding his ankles together, he sat down and wrapped his longer body around his, effectively pining him as he finally started to twitch and struggle. Placing one hand over Duo's forehead, he pulled his head back to rest on his shoulder so that he couldn't butt him with his head.

Quatre felt, rather than heard the first of his wails and shuddered in response. His head dipped down to his shoulder and he waited miserably as Duo's cries built into an astonishing crescendo of agony.

"Ja na, Duo."

***********************

Prince Miliardo stared down at the still features of his younger sister as she slept. A pretty young woman came to his side, eyes downcast, and offered him a wide mouthed chalice. As he accepted the cup, the door behind him opened and a man with wild, dark green hair entered the room. The man bowed and pressed a fist to his heart solemnly, waiting for acceptance.

Miliardo swirled the golden liquid in his cup and frowned at it before eyeing the servant woman. A pregnant one. One of his own. One of the many he had now in the palace. He'd made absolutely sure that any woman who could get pregnant was either under his eye or dead. Waving her out impatiently, he frowned when she flinched and stepped out of his reach. Keeping her head low, she ducked her way out, almost fleeing past Heero where he stood by the door. What was the matter with her?

Putting the woman out of his mind, he smiled fondly down at his sister. Miliardo enjoyed watching her sleep. Every day the powers that resided in her small, weakened body were more firmly in his grasp. "Why have you come here?" his voice was a little sharp. He didn't like being disturbed in these intimate moments. These times when he drank the Nectar from the mouth of the Silver Dragon in his beloved sister's place. It had been more satisfying when she was conscious, when she could scream and demand and finally, in the end, weep and plead. However, one couldn't always have everything.

Heero, his Guardian, the only human left in the Home Guard and the only man he could trust, straightened from his pose and strode gracefully over to the foot of his sister's bed. Leaning against a tall carved bedpost, he folded his arms, "We've found the last two Silver Ones, Majesty." He and few others alone knew where the true power lay, "We have the first in cold storage and the other one is being spaced in. He should arrive in no less than two days."

Miliardo could barely keep the glee from his face. Composing himself, he took another long swallow from the chalice. Very soon then... He would be able to kill her. Then the Dragon would have no choice but to choose a new Protector. Only this time he, Prince Miliardo, the eldest and ruler by right would be chosen for that honor. The Silver Ones, the seven hidden Protectors had almost all been rounded up together. When he had them all, he would confront the Dragon. The worm would trade it's powers for their lives, knowing that if they died, it would also perish. It would probably think to wait out Miliardo's lifetime and reclaim it's lost energy.

Miliardo smiled and downed the last of the golden liquid. He had that almost taken care of. "You say that you have one in cold storage now?" he murmured into the silence.

Heero shrugged his shoulders, "I was there when he was taken off his ship and brought to the palace. Sealed him into the tube and locked it down myself. Do you wish to view him?"

"This one, his name is Duo Loxley, correct?" Miliardo asked.

Heero nodded ruefully, "That's right, and everything they said he was. He actually managed to take down one of the Keepers."

Miliardo pondered this, setting the cup on the nightstand by his sister's head. "I don't like that. I'd rather you took care of him just in case. Like the others."

This time, Heero actually frowned, "He's in cold freeze, he can't possibly--"

"I don't want any mistakes!" Miliardo shouted, "I've almost got them all gathered together and I don't want to have to wait for yet another to be born because this one somehow miraculously manages to escape and some fool kills him. Like LAST time. Take care of him! And when the boy comes, do him too!"

Whirling away, Miliardo took another long look at his sister before he turned again and strode out of the room. Heero didn't move for a long time, staring down into the Queen's face. Her long, sun yellow hair had almost turned white and her whole face was pale and washed out. Her skin looked fragile and thin as if it would tear with a touch. Even the crystal nestled in her palms only shone dully these days, only pulsing every few moments. Shrugging again, Heero turned on his heel and walked out.

"And where is he now, dear Relena?" he asked the air in parting. Of course, she didn't answer.