4-25-2002

Title: Of bullets and Barrels
Part: 5
Author: Sunday
e-mail: all_in_leather@yahoo.com
addy: gw.seldomly.com (I half-own a domain…yah yah yah)
pairings: 1x2x1 (yah, give it a while, this will be a lemon)
notes:

Not that I am late by…err…a month or anything.
Exams, school, I swear!!! Not that this is a good excuse, seeing that I am in the middle of finals now…but…errr…

This part is convoluted and confusing at best, I am trying to get everything in motion for all the Quatre and Trowa fans out there…heh…of course, they will not be together in this fic, because I am too lazy to spend time and effort writing a crappy relationship for them. I figure, if it is just gonna be dumb, and tease some of the true 3+4 fans out there, then I ain't doing it.
Orange juice.
It does not appear in this part.
Oh, and yah, I know, it seems that really all Duo and Heero are doing is liking each other, then hating each other…then liking each other again, but it undulates more and more, becoming more extreme, I hope. Err…I took some liberties with Relena, I figure, she went through hell, so she probably is a bit different, give her a little while…till next part, and she will be good as new…almost.

I send all of my love to the following people:
Steelsong!! (who archived me on her site), Brighnasa (I swear, I will have money soon…currently I am on a nasty budget…damned coffee addiction),
To Taylor, who says that, maybe, I should start finishing some of my fics,
Dacia, and her cats... >^~.~^<
And to Sarah, who likes mysterious Trowas!!!
Yah, they are the ones that keep me writing…
and LdySowan…you now owe me another part of Growing Wings…bwahaha….BWAHAHAHAHHAA!!! ah yes, our evil little fic exchange is now known to the world…I refuse to write more until you post…better yet. I refuse to post until you post.
* grin *

As for this part being confusing, and lacking the little name tags at the end of the quotes, there is no good reason for that…it is supposed to blend together…kind of.
Yah, okay, I am done babbling, hope you all enjoy the fic!!

Comments and criticism craved!

 

Of Bullets and Barrels
Part 5

 

The first day isn't so bad. It is just a bit of hard training, nothing that you aren't used to. The second day is a bit worse, the training a bit easier, and the food a bit more scarce. They start rationing the water.

By the third day the food is down to a piece of toast, and the water down to a cup. They make you run a mile; they throw you through first day's training. They stand you in the dark, hundreds of sweat-slick bodies waiting, the heat radiating off of the thick concrete is a parody of the scorching day that had passed. Above you the blinding stadium lights glare, washing everything in their stark light.

The fourth day is the worse.

Five hours of standing at attention. Sweating, hungry. They start dropping like flies, and yet you stand, and stand and stand. Eventually you are one of the only ones left, coming in and out of consciousness, even though you remain upright.

 

 

[static]

I don't know how to describe this to you.

There…r…copters. N…to get into the Peacecraft mansion.

[static]

We are s…audio only.

Can you hear me better now? Testing? Something is jamming the signal. Okay…can you hear me now?

Okay.

In three…two…one.

Good evening, my name is Hilde Schbeiker, and I am with the L4 central news agency, first on the site of the Peacecraft disaster. I don't know how to describe what I am seeing to you, the air is thick, and smells of melted tar. Behind me, there is nothing but smoke, obscuring what is left of the estate. We have been told that the Prince and Princess are, indeed, safe. However, there is no news of the Queen….

Hey…

What the…

Get the hell away from him, you…

 

 

Fifth day, and you are ready to die, ready to fall to the concrete and embrace the sleepy oblivion you had been denied, for four, no, five nights.

On the sixth day you sleep.

Three hours.

The alarms wake you, the sound of a wild-warning screeching in your ears, as you run out into the courtyard, trying not to think of those who had not left their beds. Who never would, the exhaustion having mixed too deeply with their protocols, improperly. Dead.

You run through the drills, you stand in the rain, forbidden to open you mouth, forbidden to move. The black outs are more sudden, more frequent. You welcome them.

 

 

[static]

…oh god…oh my god.

He is dead.

The prince…

I'm….oh god.

[crying]

The mansion is demolished; it looks like a nuclear meltdown, the whole of the building melted into the gr-ground. Oz forces have…they have surrounded the area….

The cameraman…Royce Thorn…is dead. I am so sorry, oh God…They shot him.

I pulled us in here…we are behind a car, on the mansion grounds. It…it looks like hell, I think, I might be in hell. I am not even sure if you can hear this. The earphones are damaged.

[muffled sobs]

…i-it looks as if a wild had destroyed the whole of the mansion. All of it…had hit melt down. I don't know what happened. The prince and the princess are safe, I saw them being escorted out by Oz Special Forces. She was crying, God, her face was streaked with tears; they washed the grime from her cheeks, all the time she was screaming for her mother.

Millardo Peacecraft, looked unconscious, they were carrying him out…I think he might be dead. I don't know…he looked so small, he is only fifteen, oh God. I-I c-can't see far inside the mansion, it is hot out here. The manhole covers are glowing red all around us, a-and it l-looks as if there is steam rising out of them.

[gun fire]

[a scream]

oh…oh shit…SHIT!

Oh god, they just reopened fire on the onlookers, and reporters.

[scraping, and heavy exhalations]

oh my God. I am going to try to vis-

[static]

c n…you…see…t?

[It is dark. The building is glowing red, as if some sort of hidden heat is keeping it alive. Around it, the brilliant glow of the beam supports juts out from the blackened ground, the hot metal glowing an eerily in the starkness]

[visuals go black]

c'n hear…yah…

three….

[sob]

two…one….

This is Hilde Schbeiker, and I am with the L4 central news agency, first and last on the site of the Peacecraft mansion disaster. There are no released reports of what exactly is happening out here…I know this…Oz opened fire on reporters just a small while ago. I don't know how we are getting signal, the jammers must not be picking up this signal.

This is a cover up. Two of the most powerful-known weapons, have just been abducted. Millardo and Relena Peacecraft, Class Zero, and One respectively, have been abducted by Oz. It is well known fact that Oz has long sought the family, has long sought its two young weapons…

Shit…

[scuffling]

…g'ting out of 'ere…

[the sound of something heavy hitting the ground]

Hey! What are you doing here? STOP! This is the Police, you are ordered to stop. Turn around!

[static]

[panicked breathing]

We insist that you turn the feed off of your camera …

Holy…fuck…904Beta-two alfa, reporting a code nine beta…repeat…nine beta. Wild, female, approximately thirty seconds from meltdown… Get everyone the hell out of he-

Unaired recording.
Level clearance: Class Zero Black ops.

 

 

Thirty hit full maturity before you. THIRTY! All of them labeled third class, the third highest class, and are sent away. They leave to sleep, they leave to eat, they leave, proud to be alive, and to be at the tops of the sorcerer hierarchy.

It is just twelve of you now.

But you can hold on, because you have already hit maturity, you already know your power, and all this is just formalities. Another black out, another mile, another third class, another mile, and other black out.

Another day.

Just nine.

The seventh day is quiet. You stand in a tight group, staring at the young blond before you. His face is serious, but his eyes are serene, friendly. His uniform gives him away. Engineer, zero class.

One of you is a zero. He says that a machine had calculated it out during the previous day. One power signature had gone off the scale. A ripple of excitement moves through the group, but you remain quiet, because you know who is cursed with that power. Zeros are as much a wild card as the Wilds. Their powers varying in type and usefulness. It was possible to be zero, and utterly useless.

But you know that you aren't, because your training, your spilled blood, and your mangled flesh, have all assured you of your future success, your usefulness.

Your perfection.

 

Heero placed Maxwell lightly onto the bed, watched, as the man's pale lips turned down in a frown, and his pale fingers sought out the absent warmth. Somewhere, the constant creak of the ship echoed off empty halls. Apparently, they had been in space for well over an hour. Heero would not know, did not realize that he had been carrying the other man on his shoulder for well over two hours, had walked up and down the labyrinth of hallways, ignored by a crew frantically attempting to fend off a Romafeller attack. The small child was labeled wild, wrenched from him, and carried down another hallway an hour and a half prior. He had tried to follow, only to have the door close in his face.

No one had time for him.

No one had time for the captain, unconscious; the man was useless in a fight, and of no consequence to the panicked crew. He who, was an outsider, a traitor, and the reason for their woes, was even less so. He was ignored, which in itself, was a mercy. It could have been worse, they might have thrown him to Roamfeller, in an attempt to get away. But Romafeller was just as interested in him as they were in Maxwell.

Heero peeled off the first layer of the leather armor, and allowed it to hit the floor, the straps snaking off of his body, to coil at his feet. He shrugged the thick skin off of himself, letting it fall loosely, and heavily onto the back of his chair.

He winced as his movements caused the bullet wound to reopen, and bleed. The bullet had not been taken out.

Disgusted, he pulled one of the large claws off of Maxwell's hand, and imbedded it in his arm, cutting the bullet out.

It was not proper first aid, but he hardly cared at that point. The only goal he had in mind was to remove the bullet, and then slip into unconsciousness. It seemed like a good plan. Even the pleasant thought of Dorothy chewing out Maxwell dissipated after carrying around both Maxwell, and the small child. Contrary to appearances, Maxwell was not light.

He groaned in pain as the bullet slid out of his arm, and then a chocked sigh as the blade was also removed. He needed something that would kill the possibility of infection, he considered using protocol, only to realize that he was too tiered to utilize it properly. As pleasant as death sounded, he had no desire to repeat what had happened to him in the bathroom.

Slowly, he shrugged the heavy leather armor back on, wincing as it started to repair his skin, hoping that Maxwell had had the foresight to make sure that the armor could nullify bacteria, and various other parasites.

Shaking his head, he lowered his hand to the man lying before him; he admired the fall of his chestnut hair, and the slenderness of his long fingers. Maxwell's skin was fascinating, carrying the look of one who had never stepped before the sun, without the technological shields that plagued this century. Shaking his head, he raised his eyes, studying pale lips, a upturned nose, and violet eyes.

Maxwell smirked.

"Got-cha."

Heero snorted, letting his eyes rest on the Wild. "you are an idiot."

"Yup. So, now that you have gotten one of my nice clean claws dirty, want to mess up another, fixing the handiwork that the fuckers did on my side?"

Heero raised an eyebrow, before bending over Duo's body. He gazed at the small hole within the armor. It was never built to withstand a bullet, rather it had been made to aid in attack. Heero sighed, unlacing the armor, allowing it to fall back against the bed, as he inspected the bullet wound. It was too far to the right to have caused any actual damage to the man lying beneath him, but it was, without a doubt, painful. He allowed his hands to search for an exit wound, and, on finding one, sighed in relief. He did not look forward to opening anyone up.

Heero shrugged off his borrowed amour, and placed it lightly over Maxwell, tucking it around his right thigh, in an attempt to heal the wound more quickly.

"Thank you."

"You look like shit."

"Thanks."

"You are welcome, move over." Heero slowly climbed into the bed, shimmying out of the leather pants, and letting them hit the floor, before yawning widely, and falling into unconsciousness.

 

On the tenth day, it is just you, and the blond man. He finally introduces himself. Quatre Winner, Captain of Wing, and the man who will be training you in an art you perfected at age eight. He smiles serenely, and he -knows-. You have no clue as to how, or why, but he knows how good you are, and he knows why, and for the first time you realize that there is no machinery that can pick up a zero.

You were too tiered to notice before.

Another man stands beside him, tall, willowy, his eyes green and cold.

"My name is Trowa Barton, it is a pleasure to meet you, Sorcerer Yuy. I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to join the black-ops. You are most exceptional."

Winner nods lightly, before turning on his heal and walking away, the threads of your protocol whining in stress, as he leaves. Then darkness, as you finally hit maturity.

 

Heero's breath caught, before he forced it out more slowly, allowing the illusion of sleep. He winced at the slight pain emanating from his shoulder, luckily, the others in the room seemed too preoccupied to care about his state of consciousness.

"Are you brain dead?! Suicidal? Maxwell you goddamned idiot, is nothing that we have done for you meant anything, anything at-fucking-all? This crew is willing to die for you, all of us will follow you into hell, and beyond that. But that does not mean that you pull shit like this. You, IDIOT!"

"Relena."

"Shut up Dorothy, I swear to God, I will kill you both, give me three seconds to remove the I-field and I will fry you both like the chicken shit you are!"

"Relena."

"YOU! To let him into that sort of thing, after he was injured."

"What are you suggesting, woman, that I was to go myself. That would have gone over splendidly well, now wouldn't it have?"

"Shut up Wufei, you are making her worse."

"Dorothy."

"Relena."

Relena.

Heero sat up, startling the woman who stood beside his side of the bed. A scowl seemed etched onto her face, her cropped hair brushing against her face, hiding a long scar which ran down the side of her left cheek. She would have been beautiful, majestic, like the line she would never have a chance to claim.

Relena Peacecraft.

Sharp blue eyes turned to him, before the frown became deeper. "And YOU!…if I could have it my way, I would take back EVERY nice thing I have EVER said about you, and HELP! Did you hear me, you treacherous little worm? I would -HELP- as Dorothy pulled you through that air lock. And THEN…"

"Relena…seriously…let the boys rest. I was the one who was supposed to skin Maxwell…and little good it will do any of us to stand here, and verbally batter him. He is not conscious enough to appreciate the abuse. Now, follow Wufei to the kitchen, he will make you some tea, and let you rant at him."

"I said no such thing, Woman."

"Wufei." The voice was calm, threatening.

The man snorted in response. "Catalona, remind me to have your hide hung on my door, once Maxwell realizes he has no further need of you."

"Touché" Heero licked his lips, as the woman started laughing. He could not locate her in the room. But the laughter was frighteningly familiar, the way it seemed to move fluidly over his thoughts and his body. The way in which the shell surrounding his aura seemed to shriek at the sound.

It was an Engineer. Somewhere in the room…

He did not notice when he was left alone, sitting up in bed, his naked skin cool in the air-conditioned room. Maxwell was already out of bed, calmly walking towards one of the walls of the room, the blood on his side crumbling, cracking off in dried flakes.

His hand shot out, catching at the wall, before he threw a woman from its shadows, the fabric of reality rippling around her. It settled back into its usual smooth, like the faded ripples in a pond.

She was an Engineer. Zero Class. The only female he had ever seen to hold that rank. And he would have had to be an idiot or completely blind not to recognize her for the witch she was. The nanos hung around her like a mist, winding themselves around her ankles, slipping and vanishing to the floor. Already they were illuminating the weave of Maxwell's aura, causing the web of his protocol to shine in the darkened room. They caused the light to spill from his hair down his back, to surround him like a cloak.

Wild.

Anything else would have been enclosed in a sphere. Heero shivered, he could feel two, three of them prod at his aura, with a hiss, the aura flared, dispatching the invisible technology.

She laughed, stepping into the light of Maxwell's aura, turning her pale face to him, her pink lips pursed in amusement. But it was her eyes that entrapped him; he had seen that glassy viciousness in murderers, in Quatre Winner.

With a flick of the wrist the mist around her vanished, and Duo's aura flared to life, the bindings holding him together strengthening, the holes, which had opened in the spider web-like weave of his protocol, once more closed.

It was not unusual, Heero himself had been patched together by Quatre more often then he would have cared to admit, however, it did not make the process any easier to watch. Knowing that a big enough break could be death.

He wondered how much longer Maxwell could live off of the patchwork which held him together. Carefully, Duo lifted his hand to his face, brushing the long hair behind his ear, before stepping to a chair, and sprawling across it, watching the Engineer through sleepy-eyes. Heero Sat up, before moving wearily from the bed, and dropping into the chair opposite to Duo.

"You should sleep…Duo…Heero…The Cure and the Sickness. Really, if it was not so predictable, it would almost be poetic."

"Thank you Dorothy."

"I aim to please, Commander." With a laugh, she turned on her heel and left, her blond hair catching the light as it was flung upward, flowing over her willowy frame like a cloak. For a human, she was one of the most frightening people he had ever seen. Her mind as wild as that of Quatre Winner, and reeking of the influence of the Zero system.

"What is she?"

"Remember the Zero system test subjects?"

"Iie. There were none. The system ran correctly the first time it was produced."

"Right…you'd like to think that. And Wilds are voluntary bombs, right? I mean, we all know that I am siding with Romafeller, correct?"

Heero paused, his eyes skimming over the figure of Shinigami. The other's eyes cold in the heat of the room. They reminded him of the Siberian sky, pure blue and utterly frozen, changing from light sapphire to deep violet at the horizon.

"What about the test subjects?"

And he accepted it that easily, filing his skepticism away, awaiting further information.

Duo's eyes widened, surprised by the easy acceptance.

"Was she one of them?" Heero questioned, reiterating a fact that Duo had hinted at.

"You could say that…she was the first."

Heero snorted in amusement.

"Relena Peacecraft must have been pulled from the wreckage of her isolation Tube. Wufei Change is the personification of an experiment gone awry, Hilde Schbeiker, is wanted for the murder of an entire regiment of soldiers, Dorothy Catalona is a mental patient waiting to crack. And you are everything that screams of your power, and of your illicit birth. And here you all sit, a happy crew upon a ship you named after Death. An identity you claimed as your own? Are you mad?"

Duo grinned, and sat back in his chair, folding his slender ivory fingers against his stomach. He grinned, ignoring the way that a pressure wound around his jaw snapped open. "What can I say, Pretty-boy. You fit right in. The rest of your kind are dead. What is it that they called you…?"

"Maxwell…" Heero's chair clattered to the ground, his hands clenched at his sides.

"...come on Yuy, what are you afraid of, whether I say it or not, it is true. They called you the Miracle-children, but that is just the media."

"Duo…" the I-field flared to life in the small room, filling the room with the sharp smell of ozone and lighting it with a painful intensity. No shadows lurked in its wake, washing out both men's faces.

"Your creators called you 'perfects'. Or rather, the perfect soldiers. I am not a collector of weapons Yuy; I am a collector of rare artifacts, rare people, and most importantly, history. This need clatters around in here…" he raised his hand to his temple. "…my very nature demands that I collect things, that I surround myself in them, and I have, I collect souls, and I collect lives. I do it to appease whatever it is that is keeping me alive."

"Bastard."

"Aa." A smug smile spread over Maxwell's face, his lips stretched thin and fake.

Heero unclenched his fingers, and looked away from the vision sprawled in front of him. He knew that he could take Maxwell, knew that he could have him, ensnare himself in the smell and feel of him. He also knew that if he did, he would not escape the ship. Creator knows that he had already returned to the forsaken place of his own will. "what will you do when I don't return?"

Duo's eyes snapped to his, or perhaps, it was Heero's that traveled back to the other man's face, that obsessively caressed the sharp line of his jaw, and the set of his wide eyes.

"I'll wait for you. They always come back, you know. It is hard to escape Death."

Heero licked his suddenly dry lips, all to aware of the fall of the I-field, the stabilizing of his power, the shields and weapons that came to him at the mere thought of them. He stared back at the man who did not think of his power, to whom the power was as natural as breathing, and as instinctive. The nets harnessing the wilderness and fluctuations all the more apparent now that he knew to look for them. Now that he could feel them pulsing angrily against the spoken protocol.

"You are confident."

"Aa."

"Hn, I will see you if I see you."

"when…when you see me."

Heero shook his head, he leaned over the other, his hands resting on either side of Duo's body, keeping him in his chair, imprisoning him there. Heero's lips brushed against Duo's ear.

"You must really hate the Black Ops, Duo, they are the only Sorcerers you cannot control…the only ones who don't exist, and the only ones who really know how to avoid and destroy your kind."

Duo's voice was tense, strained "Aa. I imagine, that for those reasons you hate them too."

"Hai, it is unfortunate, that my hatred for you is even more encompassing."

Heero stood, calmly straightened out his jacket, and left the room. He headed towards the space pods, no protocol blocking his path, no door standing in his way.
He did not hesitate when he stepped into the nearest pod. He did not look back when he was ejected into space, the small ship propelling him towards the nearest base.

"Protocol open channels. Seer Une. Code 456 beta 3 alfa. Seer Une, do you read me. "

"Sorcerer Yuy, Your request has been processed, I am dispatching you to Barton. He will be most interested in hearing of what secrets seem to be common knowledge."

"That information is classified, Seer."

"I am top level, Sorcerer. Your secret will die with me. It has been foreordained."

"Good Afternoon, Yuy. Une tells me you are not a spy."

"Aa. I have no such intention."

"You are taking up my offer, however, with much distaste …we need someone of your skill. I will meet you on port. Expect to be arrested and interrogated. Standard procedure, of course."

"of course."

Heero shut off the link within his mind, removing the uncomfortable feeling of the woman within his head. This was normal. He was normal. It was back to procedure.

But in his mind, burned behind his eyelids was the image of Duo's saddened weary face. The grin as false and flat in his mind as it was in reality. His power unstable and corroded, yet holding him with bonds stronger then any OZ had managed to place around his psyche. He wondered if Une had sensed that. He wondered how much of him was about to die.

 

End part 5.
Notes:
Dorothy has WHAT surrounding her? Nanos…nano technology, meaning, microscopic little computers, which she does stuff with. I mean really, was I going to make Quatre weak?…pppft. Anyway, she is interfaced with Zero, which is aiding in the billions of calculations required to run such technology…yah. All is good.