"A Liberator for the People"
"A soldier, eh?" The older woman peered up at Wufei from where she was standing in the doorway, spectacles shining in the late afternoon sunlight. "So you're here to investigate the mobile dolls, are you?"
Wufei nodded silently from where he was standing on the walk with the little boy.
"Well, come in, then," the woman grumbled, turning and limping inside. "Shut the door behind you so the bugs don't get in."
Wufei did so, stepping into the dark front hall and glancing up at the dead lightbulb overhead. The house was run-down but comfortable, he noted as he followed the child past the den to the kitchen. Small, aging... but tidy and cozy. He stood by the table, glancing towards the window where he could faintly see the sunlight reflected off the mobile doll down the road. The old woman- she must be more of a great aunt to the boy, Wufei thought to himself -hobbled around the kitchen, taking down mugs and taking a steaming kettle from the stovetop. "Have a seat," she fussed. "You don't have to stand all rigid like that. You soldiers, you never relax..."
Wufei sat reluctantly and accepted the mug of tea she offered, impatient to begin his questioning, but knowing that trying to pressure or rush the old only resulted in further frustration. So he waited silently as the old woman poured herself a mug, set the kettle on the table, and shooed her nephew out of the room to play. As she seated herself carefully across from Wufei, she gave a quiet sigh and reached for her mug.
"You took a risk coming here," she informed him, watching him shrewdly over her drink. "Those who come to this town are unable to get out."
Wufei nodded. "I've heard it's the same in other towns," he said. "I'm here to find out why and who's behind it. I need any information you can give me."
The old woman took a small sip of her tea. "There's not much to tell," she mumbled. "The dolls turned up a couple months ago. First they surrounded the town, blocking the main roads, then one of them planted itself in the middle of the town," she nodded towards the window, where it could be seen, "and after playing a recorded message, stayed there."
"It hasn't done anything?"
"No, it looks like it's more of a threat than anything else." The woman shrugged. "Though if any try to get out, the ones around the town either block the way, or, if the people persist..." her wrinkled face hardened, "they destroy them."
"I see." Wufei frowned. "What did the message say? Did you recognize the voice?"
"No. It was distorted. Here, hear it for yourself..." she pointed behind Wufei, and he turned. "Fetch that little stereo. My son was recording himself practicing his lines for the school play in the yard when the message was relayed."
Wufei retrieved the small boombox and rewound the tape in it, flicking it to 'play' when it had finished rewinding. He listened in silence to the faint message in the background.
"This town is hereby under martial law. You will not leave the town limits, and you will not be allowed to contact any of your state representatives of Foreign Minister Relena. Do not try to leave or rebel, or you will be killed. I repeat..."
Wufei listened as the message was repeated, then clicked the stop button and turned towards his hostess.
"The phone lines were cut that day," she said, reaching for a pack of cigarettes by the kettle and pulling one out. "We haven't even been able to call each other within the town, much less contact anybody on the outside." She lit the cigarette and took a long drag from it. "I have no idea who's behind it, and no one else in this town does, either. Sorry to tell you this, soldier, but it looks like your trip here was for nothing. Can't tell you who dunnit, and now you can't leave. You should've brought an army with you."
Wufei tapped the stereo. "Could I take this tape with me?"
The old woman squinted at him, looking dryly amused. "Take it if you want, sonny... Don't tell me you're going to try to get out of this death trap?"
"I'm not going to try," Wufei corrected, pocketing the tape. "I'm getting out. I'll find out who's behind this."
The woman laughed, but he merely thanked her for her time and the tea and left.
He stopped on the porch, frowning up at the sky. So there were mobile dolls keeping people captive in their own homes, and threatening them. Maybe Relena hadn't been so foolish to take steps to rectify this? Her methods may have been questionable, but it was still true that she had seen this threat and come up with a solution. Knowing that Heero and the others would not have wanted to rush into war, she had created a back-up. But, still, if she had only come to them earlier, they would have been curious enough to check up on her story. Why rush into plan B? Had the scientists talked her into it?
It didn't matter anymore, anyway. What was done was done. Now he just had to sneak out and get to the bottom of this whole mess. The door opened behind him as he was heading down the walkway.
"Boy!" The woman was at the doorway, peering out at him. "Don't be foolish and get yourself killed. Trying to escape is suicide."
Wufei was about to ignore her when a thought occured to him. What was it Duo had said...?
He turned to face her, hesitant to ask but knowing it might be a chance. "Obasaan," he interrupted. "Do you know if there are any covens in this town?"
The old lady went rigid, staring at him with glinting, sharp eyes, her lips tight. She said nothing for several long moments. "Why is a soldier interested in the likes of them?" she demanded at last.
"Answer the question."
She laughed harshly. "You're a strange one, that's for damn sure." She shook her head. "We had some of them people that called themselves witches. They cleared out a day or two before the dolls showed up. Like they knew it was comin'." She eyed him. "You might wanna look into that, sonny." With that she turned and reentered her house, the screen door slamming closed behind her.
Wufei snorted quietly and continued on his way.
His phone rang as he reached the end of the driveway, and he paused, pulling it from his pocket. "05."
"Hey, Wufei." It was Duo. He sounded breathless. "Man, I'm glad you didn't turn off your phone like you usually do. I've got some shit to fill you in on that you're not going to believe..."
Wufei listened grimly as Duo quickly told him about Heero's injury, how he had been kidnapped by Davarius and then brought him to some caves where Trowa had run into him by pure chance and helped free some withces from the caves. They had met up with a new ally, apparently, a "Gable" who promised to help them locate Quatre.
Wufei frowned to himself as he hung up the phone. He got the distinct impression Duo was hiding some things from him. He had seemed very vague and brief when telling him about Davarius and how Trowa had come across him, but he would worry about that later. He had more important matters at hand right now.
Like getting the hell out of this town.
He was heading boldly down the main road towards the edge of town when screaming suddenly broke out. He broke into a run, ignoring the people on the sidewalks who turned at the sounds with looks of helpless horror.
Up ahead he could see one of the mobile dolls thundering into sight, beam laser aimed at the ground by its feet. One of the perimiter dolls? Someone must have tried to escape.
As he neared, his suspicions were confirmed. A black cadillac was at the doll's feet, and there was a man getting out of the driver's seat, face pale as he stared up in mute terror at the advancing mecha. The mother had already fled from the passenger side and was yanking her two children from the back, screaming at her husband to run. The children were shrieking. Wufei put on an extra burst of speed. He had to grab them, get them out of the way, maybe distract the doll...
He wasn't going to get there in time, he could already tell. Shenlong was right outside the town, hidden behind some abandoned buildings. Kuso... Even as he ran he watched helplessly as the end of the doll's laser lit up, preparing to fire on the family below.
A lime-green blur sliced into the doll suddenly, from nowhere, and Wufei ground to a halt, gasping for breath. Deathscythe!
The doll was wrenched backwards, impaled, and tossed back, away from the town, just before it exploded. Windows shattered and screaming townspeople dove for cover. Wufei flinched as flying glass sliced into his arm and cheek, throwing up his arms to protect his face. When he lowered them, a chaotic sight met his eyes.
The family who had tried to escape was already racing past him towards safety, and the other mobile dolls had appeared to destroy the interloper. It wasn't Deathscythe.
Quicker than thought the Gundam rounded on its attackers, lashing out at two with its double-bladed scythe and firing its clawed hand into another. Explosions rocked the town, and everywhere people were running for cover, their screams almost drowned out in the noise of battle. The Gundam fought fiercely, if not skillfully, cutting down all dolls who came before it. And it was winning.
This, Wufei realized dazedly, must be the Gundam Relena had funded. The final creation of the scientists. Thundertalon.
He ducked behind a tree, narrowly avoiding a flying hunk of smouldering, twisted metal from one of the doll's hulls. That was Trinity fighting, he realized, risking a quick look at the carnage. He wasn't doing bad for what had to be one of his first battles.
He turned as the mobile doll that had been standing placidly in the square up until now rushed by, blasting wildly at the new threat. Thundertalon stumbled for a moment under the barrage of laser bullets before straightening and whirling the scythe,-- with, Wufei noted dryly, much less skill and dexterity than Duo --slicing an arm from its attacker. Striking out with the butt of the scythe, it drove the doll back and off balance just in time to crush the 'head' of the thing with a heavy blow.
And it was over.
Wufei slowly stepped over metal scraps as he picked his way towards the Gundam, which had gone still. Very soon the townspeople would come creeping out, and he didn't know if Trinity would leave if that happened. He had a few words to say to the boy.
"Trinity!" he shouted, pausing at a safe distance. If the boy went beserk, he needed to be able to dive for cover. "Open up! I know it's you! I'm 05-- one of the Gundam pilots!"
For a long moment there was no response, and he was sure the boy wasn't going to answer. Then the hatch opened with a hiss, and a smooth head of hair appeared, leaning over the edge. After a slight hesitation, a rope and aluminum ladder clattered over the edge and the boy scrambled down nimbly. Wufei was before him in a flash, seizing him roughly by his shirt and hauling him quickly away from the ladder, ignoring his startled yell.
Wufei was surprised at how light the boy was- he was practically lifting him off his feet with his brutal movements. Trinity seized his wrists, breathing hard and staring up at him wide-eyed, but he seemed to know better than to struggle, for he simply went stiff, standing on tip-toes in Wufei's grip and tilting his head slightly to stare up at him.
He looked so young in the face, but his height proved that he was only a few years younger than Wufei himself. Smooth dark hair, solemn gray eyes, a face rounded like a child's. He looked young and delicate. Definately not someone who should be behind the controls of the world's deadliest fighting machine.
"So you're Trinity." Wufei glanced over him quickly. "What the hell was Relena thinking when she stuck a brat like *you* in that thing?"
Trinity flushed, pride pricked by the soldier's blunt manner. "Let go of me," he said tensely. "Why are you treating me like an enemy? I just saved this town."
Wufei shook him, gritting his teeth. "Why? I'll tell you *why*. You listened to that twit Relena and those lunatic scientists. And because of that you almost got Heero killed."
"That..." Trinity's face scrunched up. "That was Dr. J. Anyway, why do you think I got out of Thundertalon to talk to you? Let me go, I'm not going to run."
Wufei hesitated before releasing him, crossing his hands and glowering at the younger boy. "Well?"
"What Dr. J did was wrong," Trinity admitted, straightening his shirt, and glancing over his shoulder as some of the town members began to hesitantly emerge from their hiding places. "I don't understand why he got so angry and shot Heero. I got upset, so I left. I was going to follow Heero, but I got held back."
"Yes. I killed Dr. J."
Wufei felt his eyebrows start to rise and controlled the involuntary reaction to the news. So this kid wasn't all cute an innocent like he appeared to be. Just as he'd thought... a ticking timebomb. Relena never should have given such a young boy such power. "Why is that?" he asked calmly.
Trinity frowned at him, as if the answer was obvious. "He tried to kill Heero. Then he tried to keep me from going. He aimed at me. I don't know if he would have really shot me, but he was angry and I didn't have time to take the risk." He shrugged. "So I shot him."
"Look, I need to go." Trinity was watching the people come towards them nervously. "There are other towns I need to take care of."
"Did it ever occur to you," Wufei said sharply, "that if you showed up and just started randomly destroying these dolls the others might get the go ahead to destroy the towns they've locked down?"
Trinity looked like he hadn't. He paled slightly.
"Relena's not going to be happy if a couple hundred of her subjects die because of *your* brash moves," Wufei informed him stonily.
"Too late now, though, isn't it?" Trinity snapped, cheeks tinged as he glared defiantly at Wufei. "And since there's nothing I can do to reverse it, I'm just going to have to finish the job, aren't I?"
"There are around seven towns under lock-down," Wufei reminded him. "How do you expect to take them all down before they start going hay-wire?"
Trinity didn't hesitate. "Help me."
Wufei blinked. "Nani?"
"I know you have to have your Gundam somewhere around here." Trinity gazed up at him with a firm mouth. "Help me. You take some, I'll take some. Or are you just going to sit back and let it happen?"
"You want *me*," Wufei growled indignantly, "to help fix *your* mess?"
"Will you or won't you?" Trinity demanded impatiently. The people were getting closer. "With or without your help, I have no choice but to go through with it, anyway, so if you'll get out of the way, I have to be going."
Wufei muttered a curse, pushing Trinity impatiently aside-- more out of spite than any pretense that the smaller boy was in his way --and dashed off. "Take the ones in the west," he shouted bad-temperedly over his shoulder. "And try not to mess shit up any more than you already have!"
"Hai!" Trinity ignored his rudeness and ran towards his own Gundam. "And you try not to get yourself hurt, old man!"
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