Last revised: 10/03/99
Well, here's another fic teaser for you guys. It's just a rough draft and admittedly a bit sketchy. ^_^;
It has the same set-up for Duo (an Immortal of Irish origin), but this Duo is considerably... er, darker. Sorry, Methos isn't in this one (at the moment).
Since it's much darker than my pre-existing GW/Highlander xover, I'm not sure whether to consider a future part of "Cuts Like A Scythe" or to treat it like a separate story altogether. Any opinions?
You can find basic background info on Highlander: the Series at: http://www.rysher.com/highlander/theseries/index.html
Information on Badb, the Morrigan, and Celtic mythology: http://www.pantheon.org/mythica/
DEATH AND THE RAVEN
A Gundam Wing / Highlander: the Series fanfic by Madamhydra
Short Disclaimer: (Full Disclaimers at the end)
Gundam Wing and Highlander: the Series are copyrights of their respective creators and all distributors of their work and used without permission.
OZ Lieutenant Pfieffer sank his fingers into the unruly mop of dark hair and yanked the naked prisoner's head back sharply. As he stared down at the glazed eyes that jerked wildly in every direction, the officer said with an ugly smirk, "Not quite feeling so tough, are you, you piece of shit? Well, you only have yourself to blame. The Colonel's got a thing about his good looks, so you really shouldn't have broken his nose, you know."
When the prisoner didn't respond to the Lieutenant's taunting, Pfieffer shook the teenager's head again, then gave up when it became obvious that he wasn't getting through.
A low animalistic growl came from the teenaged prisoner as he jerked at his restraints. His wild-eyed gaze flitted around the room as if tracking some unseen enemy closing in on him.
"Unfortunately, that drug he gave you to teach you a lesson is likely to turn your brain into tapioca pudding. Personally, I think it's a big waste of a good prisoner, but the Colonel tends to get carried away by his personal feelings. Oh well, we're probably going to be able to get our hands on another of your terrorist buddies, so no real harm done. Maybe that one will be a little more cooperative after I show him what will happen to him if he doesn't talk." He slowly ran his hand down the prisoner's bleeding back and thoughtfully began to knead one buttock.
"Hm, taking a few liberties with the prisoner, Lieutenant?" a crisp tenor voice said behind him.
The startled officer started to turn when something hit him and everything went black.
Lieutenant Pfieffer groggily awoke to find himself strapped down to one of the spare examination tables in the makeshift interrogation room, his arms and legs spread in a X-position. He turned his aching head slightly to see a brown-haired teenager stared down at him with a menacing little grin. The boy was dressed in an OZ cadet's uniform, but the long, butt-length braid was definitely *not* regulation.
"What the fuck's going on!?!?"
In a mildly scolding voice, the teenager said, "Uh uh uh. I'm the one asking the questions here. One, what is the code to release his restraints?" The boy jerked his thumb in the direction of the prisoner. "And two, what did you do to him?"
Pfeiffer glared furiously and hissed, "Like hell! You think I'm going to tell YOU how to let that dirty little bastard go...!"
Violet eyes glittered as the braided boy leaned forward and said in an almost friendly voice, "Oh, that's ENTIRELY the wrong thing to say."
The lieutenant glared contemptuously up at the boy who couldn't be more than 15 years old and sneered, "Oh, and what are you going to do about it, you little prick?"
The boy blinked his violet eyes, then cocked his head slightly and murmured, "You do know you're in no position to be obstinate, right? After all, *you're* the one strapped to the table, not me. As for what I can do to you, welllll...."
Pfeiffer's eyes suddenly went wide as the teenager grinned cheerfully and held up a gleaming scalpel.
"I've got to say that you OZ guys have pretty good medical equipment. And I've always had a thing about things that cut."
"Ah. Put up or shut up, right? Okay. Fine by me. I need to work off my frustrations, anyway."
As the lieutenant opened his mouth -- whether to insult, bargain, or plead with his captor -- the boy briskly crammed a towel into it. The next thing Pfeiffer felt was nimble fingers undoing his pants and yanking them down below his knees.
"I see you're a briefs-type guy," the boy said with a maniacal sort of cheerfulness.
The muffled protest turned into an equally muffled shriek as the lieutenant felt warm fingers on his bare thigh... and dangerously close to his testicles. As the man frantically jerked his head, the boy said with unnerving calm, "Yes, I know you probably want to tell me something right about now, but I want to make sure that we get the ground rules perfectly clear before we start talking."
A stifled squeal of terror worked its way through the towel crammed in Pfeiffer's mouth as something icy cold brushed along his penis. Suddenly, an agonizing pain seared its way along the acutely sensitive skin of his inner thigh from the knee all the way up to his groin.
When his vision finally cleared, a trembling Pfeiffer stared up at the smiling teenager... and the long bloody strip of skin dangling from his fingers.
An odd, lilting accent crept into the boy's voice as he said in that same, almost friendly voice, "I bet you thought I was going to castrate you, right?"
Pfieffer jerked his head in a frantic nod. "MMMPPPHHHH!!!"
"Nope. You might pass out from blood loss and then where would I be? But this way... do you know that if you're careful, you can completely skin a person and have them live for quite some time? In the middle of the twentieth century, German officers in the death camps used to skin the prisoners to make lampshades and gloves." The boy prodded him thoughtfully. "Believe me, you'll be a lot easier to skin and keep alive than a half-starved prisoner. Now here's the deal. You tell me what I want to know and I'll set you free. And please, no screaming, okay?"
Another frantic nod.
"Good. Now, what's the code to unlock his restraints?" the boy asked as he yanked the towel out of Pfeiffer's mouth.
"1A3-0D9-2E3," gasped the quivering lieutenant.
"All right. Question number two -- what the fuck do you do to him?"
"It... it wasn't my fault! I was just following orders! While the Colonel was interrogating him, the guy got loose and gave the Colonel a good shot right in the face. He was so mad about that, he decided to make an example out of the kid by using this experimental drug!"
"The Colonel... Colonel Weitz, the slim man with the curly golden blond hair?"
"And what does that drug do?" the violet-eye teenager said in a silken, menacing purr.
"It was supposed to be an interrogation drug, but it doesn't work too well. Apparently it's at least a couple hundred times more powerful than LSD. More than half the time, it fucks up the prisoner's brain before you can get any information out of him!"
"And how long do the effects last?"
"I don't know.... ARRGHHH!!!" Pfeiffer's answer degenerated into a scream as his captor delicately brushed his fingers along the raw, oozing flesh along the lieutenant's thigh.
"I swear to God! The Colonel gave the prisoner a hell of a dose. It could be days before it wears off and... and the side-effects...." The OZ officer's voice trailed off nervously.
"I presume you mean to say that the side-effects and brain damage could be permanent." The boy's voice was eerily calm.
Pfeiffer gave a weak nod of confirmation.
"The name of the drug, please."
The officer licked his lips and whispered, "They... they call it PANDEMONIUM. All the information's on the computer. I just pulled it up myself."
"Everything I've got access to," the man babbled, now desperate to be helpful. He heaved a sigh of relief as the braided teenager drifted over to the computer workstation. Pfeiffer could hear the click of a keyboard and the whir of a disk drive. Then he heard the teenager move toward the prisoner. There was a distant murmur of voices.
"Heero? Shhh. It's me, Duo. Relax. I'm here. I'll have you out of here in a sec."
There was a dull snick as the restraints open. After some shuffling noises, the braided teenager reappeared in Pfeiffer's field of view. As the captive officer twitched fearfully, the boy said in an almost kindly voice, "Chill out. I said that I'd set you free, right? A deal's a deal."
"Yup, even if you were grabbing at Heero's ass." The teenager added with a rueful grin, "But I can understand why you did it. He does have a cute butt."
Pfieffer started to breath a little easier. His leg hurt like hell, but it wasn't like it was anything crippling. And the kid didn't look like he was carrying a gun or anything. If he was lucky and if the boy was careless, Pfieffer could get him back for nearly scaring the shit out of him.
But even as the lieutenant was plotting his revenge, Duo reached out and nonchalantly broke Pfeiffer's neck.
[several hours later]
Quatre raced down the hall into the infirmary as soon as he heard the news of Duo's arrival.
"Duo! How's Heero!?" the Arab pilot asked anxiously. He peeked into the room, then whirled around to ask Duo, "And why is Heero tied down like that?"
The Deathscythe pilot sighed and said, "He's not good." As he explained about the possible side-effects of the PANDEMONIUM drug, Quatre looked increasingly worried.
Duo concluded by saying, "It's not like I want to keep Heero tied up, but he's hallucinating so badly...."
"I see. Is there anything I can do?"
"Not really. Wait... can you forward this information to Sally Po? It's the data on PANDEMONIUM. Maybe she can come up with some ideas for helping Heero." Duo turned and headed purposefully down the hallway.
"Where are you going?"
Duo stopped. For a moment, he didn't move or speak. Finally, he said evenly, "I'm not letting that bastard get away with this. Physically hurting Heero is one thing, but that piece of shit Weitz might have destroyed Heero's *mind*. And he's going to pay."
"Duo! You can't go after Weitz now! Heero needs you! If anyone can help Heero through this, it's you!"
"I know that," was Duo's quiet reply.
"Then where are you going?" Quatre felt an ugly knot of uneasiness and dread grow in his chest. Despite his obvious anger, Duo seemed... strangely calm... much too calm. And when he turned to look at Quatre, the Arab pilot sensed an unnerving darkness lurking in those bright violet eyes.
"I'm not going anywhere except to my room. Just keep an eye on Heero
for me. I'll be back in two or three hours. "
Quatre could only nod as Duo walked away.
After changing his shirt, Duo flung open the French doors of his room and stared out at the night sky. A chilly breeze rustled the few remaining leaves that struggled to cling to the nearly bare branches. He turned back to his darkened room and started to light the candles. When he was finished, he walked back to the center of the bedroom and sat on the floor. In front of him was a heavy silver bowl which was obviously was much older and more primitive than Quatre Raberba Winner would ever own. But although primitive and simple in design, the bowl had its own particular stark, functional beauty.
He reached deep within for the old discipline and centered himself. Then, as he slowly began to undo his braid, he mediated on the dancing reflections of the candle flames in the gleaming surface of the bowl. Once his long, chestnut hair was loose and flowing freely down his back like a cascade of silk, he rolled up his sleeves. Duo reached out to the apparently thin air before him and in the next instant, a thin silvery blade appeared between his fingers.
With no hesitation, Duo drew the razor-sharp knife along a vein in his right arm. The blood streamed down his hand into the waiting bowl. He repeated the procedure three times as the wound healed with its usual unnatural speed until the bowl was half full. He set the bloodied knife down and waited. With the violence in the world, it would not take long for an answer.
Less than ten minutes passed before an icy breeze swirled through the open windows and sent the candle flames flickering. Duo opened his eyes to see a large raven staring at him over the blood-filled bowl. As he bowed respectfully, the raven opened its beak and spoke in a hoarse, yet compelling voice.
"It's been a long time since you have called on me, little one. What are you seeking from me?"
"Confusion and terror to my enemies, my lady Badb."
The raven cawed in laughter. "A worthy goal, certainly." A mildly scolding tone entered its voice. "But why now? For it seems that you have in recent years dedicated yourself to ending war and pursuing peace. That is somewhat unseemly for a follower of mine."
Duo said quietly, "Since I have taken Duo Maxwell's name and memories, it is only fitting that I also take his dreams and his calling. He wanted an end to the suffering, the misery, and he was willing to fight to the death to accomplish it. As long as I lay claim to his identity, am I not bound to follow that calling?"
The raven bobbed its head regally. "That is so. If you have taken his name, a debt is owed. Such debts must be paid."
A familiar, impish smile appeared on Duo's face. "And no matter how hard I might try, war and battle will never vanish permanently. It's the nature of humankind. So what's the harm? Don't you think you could use a brief vacation?"
The jet black bird cackled in amusement. "You were ever the bold and daring one. Very well. As you desire, terror and confusion to your enemies. But I shall set a price to my aid."
"Of course, my lady."
"I want the Peacecraft."
"Oh?" Duo gave the goddess an inquiring look.
"Her preachings of peace and her meddling ways displease me."
A slow, predatory smile appeared on Duo's face. "I quite understand, but that task hardly constitutes a sacrifice on my part, O Badb."
"No, it is not a sacrifice." Duo felt a presence standing over him and cool fingers running through his hair. "You have always been one of our favorites. You desire vengeance for wrongs done to your beloved. That is a fitting purpose. Consider this task to be atonement for your recent neglect of me, then."
"As the Morrigu demand," Duo murmured. "And when do you desire this price to be paid, my lady?"
"As best suits your needs. What is time to either of us? As for the Peacecraft -- dead or discredited, in manner public or secret, it matters not to me how you deal with her as long as her wagging tongue is silenced."
"Then I am, as always, your most obedient servant, my lady."
Quatre blurted, "Heero!? What are you doing out of bed?"
The Wing pilot whirled around to face him in a wary crouch. The cobalt blue gazed wandered aimlessly for an instant, then abruptly focused on the blond haired person standing -- too close! -- to him.
Time seemed to slow to a crawl as the Sandrock pilot saw the gun in Heero's hand come up and his finger tighten on the trigger. Quatre could hear Trowa shouting something, but the words were lost in the roar of the pistol as it fired once... twice... three times....
Quatre felt the first two impacts and lost track after that.
Wufei skidded to a stop in front of Duo's bedroom and pounded furiously on the door.
Grabbing at the door, he found it securely locked. The Chinese pilot slammed his shoulder against the door, intending to break it open by force if necessary, but the door didn't budge.
"Duo! Where the hell are you!? Heero's running loose and he's armed! Damn it! He's just shot Quatre! Duo! If you're in there, answer me!"
As Wufei debated about entering Duo's room through the outside balcony, he heard Duo calmly say, "Come in."
He grabbed at the doorknob and leaned forward, intending to use his body weight to shove the door open, but it started to move even before he touched it. Caught off-balance, Wufei toppled head-first into Duo's bedroom. Just before he landed on his face, the Chinese pilot thought he caught a glimpse of something black soaring out the open French doors into the night sky.
Scrambling to his feet, Wufei abruptly froze in shock at the scene before him.
The entire room was filled with black and red candles of all shapes and sizes. They were everywhere, filling the room in their warm glow and heat. And sitting on the floor in the middle of the surreal scene was Duo Maxwell. As for the Deathscythe pilot, he was placidly braiding a set of black and red ribbons into his long hair. Then Wufei caught the unmistakable, almost overwhelming metallic smell of fresh blood....
Before he could locate its source, Duo tied off his braid, flipped it over his shoulder, and bounced to his feet.
"Let's find Heero."
"What about all these...?"
As a pilot, Wufei was about as immune to vertigo as a person could be, but suddenly the room seemed to tilt. All the flickering lights, the scent of the candles left him strangely disoriented. He couldn't help wondering if Duo had been burning something considerably more potent than just candlewax. The wavering sight of the door slowly swinging shut and the vague feeling of being trapped awoke a faint sense of panic.
Out in the hallway, Duo called out easily, "C'mon! We've got more important things to worry about!"
Even as he spoke, a sudden breeze whipped through the open French doors and extinguished every single candle.
Wufei shook his head in bewilderment, then ran after Duo. The Chinese pilot soon caught up to Duo. There was something else... something *different* about the other pilot.... Wufei stared hard at Duo for a long moment, trying to track down the nagging strangeness... then suddenly realized what it was.
Instead of the stark white inner shirt that Duo always wore under his black outer shirt, the Deathscythe pilot's inner shirt was now red... an intense, pure blood red.
Heero crouched on the floor of the storage room, but his trembling slowly eased as Duo continued to murmur soothing nonsense to him. The disoriented Wing pilot huddled in Duo's arms, then started to sniff suspiciously. His fingers reached out and tugged slightly at Duo's red undershirt.
"Blood... I smell... blood." Heero scowled abruptly. "You hurt?"
Duo smiled brightly. "Don't worry about it, Heero. It's not mine."
[ two days later ]
Treize Khushrenada stared through the window of the visitor's quarters on Colonel Weitz's base and frowned at the dark specks circling high above in the sky.
"The cause of the shuttle crash?" he asked curtly.
Lady Une pushed up her glasses and said, "It appears that a bird got sucked into the air intake of one of the engines. The collision caused the engine to explode, which resulted in the shuttle crashing on takeoff."
Treize turned sharply and said, "Aren't the engine intakes supposed to be screened against that sort of problem?"
"Yes, sir. It's possible that the mechanics were negligent. Or the intake screens were defective. Or it could be just bad luck."
"Bad luck," Treize muttered. "Twenty people died because of that 'bad luck'. And what about that commotion in the cafeteria yesterday?"
The sight of Lady Une turning pale sent a chill down Treize's spine.
"Sir, it appears that the young man who went on the rampage in the cafeteria is... was suffering from an extremely virulent form of... avian rabies."
"WHAT!? I thought rabies was strictly limited to mammals!"
"It is, sir -- or was. The medical team is almost certain that it's a type of rabies, but this variant has never been seen before. It appears to be much faster and more easily transmitted than the ordinary strain of rabies. They think the ensign caught it when he was attacked by a strangely behaving seagull two days ago." Lady Une coughed and added, "Normal rabies usually has an incubation period of at least 10 days."
"And this version took effect in... what? Twenty-four hours?"
"Yes sir. And my lord, there have been three more reports of bird attacks since this morning."
Treize resumed gazing out the window. His instinct for survival, honed from over five hundred years of existence as an Immortal, was shouting a warning. Something strange was happening here -- something strange and deadly. This facility was not a good place to be.
His blue eyes abruptly narrowed as he realized that in the last few minutes, he had seen more birds flying around the base than he usually saw in days. They were everywhere -- perched on rooftops, on wires, on equipment.... A flock of seagulls scattered as a jet black bird swooped in and landed directly outside his window.
The crow stared directly at him through the glass, its gleaming, bead-like eyes missing nothing, although the reflective coating on the window should have made it impossible for the bird to see him.
"Yes sir?" She too was warily eyeing the large crow.
Without taking his eyes off the bird, he said firmly, "Tell Zechs not to come here."
"And inform Colonel Weitz that our immediate attention is required elsewhere and that we're cutting short our inspection. Be prepared to leave within the hour."
Lady Une blinked, then nodded briskly. "Yes sir!"
Now alone, Treize thought he felt a familiar ache in his left eye. Ravens and crows had always made him uneasy ever since that nightmarish encounter in San Francisco.... He had lost an eye to a large raven that night and very nearly lost his head to the raven's Immortal master.
Treize never saw his opponent's face. He couldn't be sure, of course, but given the other's petite stature and the long hair braid, it seemed most likely that the other Immortal had been a woman. The only other thing Treize knew about his opponent was that she had been lethally quick. Only a leap off the Golden Gate Bridge into the freezing waters of the bay had saved his life. As for the eye, nearly half a century passed before it fully healed.
He smiled faintly to himself.
(Although the ladies certainly didn't seem to mind the eyepatch at all.)
The Full Disclaimer
All rights and privileges to Shin Kidousenki Gundam Wing are trademarks and property of Sunrise, Bandai, Sotsu Agency, and associated parties. All rights and privileges to "Highlander" and its associated names and characters are the trademarks and property of Davis/Panzer Productions, Inc. The characters of these works are used WITHOUT permission for the purpose of entertainment only. This work of fiction is not meant for sale or profit.
Original portion of the fiction included here is considered to be the sole property and copyrighted to the author.