by AKA Anonymous
See Part 1 for Warnings etc
Feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The capital building was in chaos. Preventors, technicians, and civilians ran about wildly, not even looking twice to watch the battered foursome skirt the crowds and head for their commanding officer.
They were quite a vision, too. Covered with dirt, clothes torn, and hair matted with sweat, not to mention most of their faces were no longer flesh toned, but a rainbow of blues, purples and sickly greens. Had anyone actually studied them closely they would have seen the four faces were carefully controlled masks carved from pain, confusion and anger. The drawn, disheveled figures moved through the bustle with a determination that discouraged such scrutiny though, as they closed in on their final target.
Une was extremely easy to find; she acted as the eye of the hurricane. Her voice rose over the waves of scrambling movement and as her orders kept flowing more people seemed to simply appear, ready to jumped to her demands.
Quatre sidestepped a young girl dressed in a ragged blue t-shirt and jeans that seemed to be holes held together by patches of worn cloth-- obviously a civilian--but she carried a field medical kit with the Preventor's logo on the side. Several smaller children ran around her, carrying various bundles of equipment, ammunitions and supplies. And for some reason, no one blinked an eye as they slipped out the doors to the streets where gunshots could still be vaguely heard over the sirens.
The more he looked, the more civilians he found carrying out orders just like the officers in black uniforms; carting around cables for hooking up emergency electricity, ground communications equipment was being set up under a supervising eye, and various other chores not usually witnessed by non-personnel. Very strange, indeed, but Quatre placed those questions aside for raising at a different time.
"Satellites are to be reconnected, internal communications are top priority. Get someone to hack the colony's computer--I don't care if it's against the law! I want to know what's going on here!
"I want the tracking systems operational in five minutes, the rescue team will head ou--" her dictatorial speech slurred to a stop as her eyes caught on an area that actually lacked movement despite her commands. She barely batted an eye when Heero gave a weary (slightly mocking) salute.
"Nevermind, have the rescue team stand down; I want Agent Water sent to my office with some medical supplies as soon as her shuttle lands." (1) With that the Commander turned heel and headed for the governor's office, pausing a few moments to allow the Gundam pilots to follow without a double-timed march.
The building, though now thoroughly decorated with spray paint on the outside and methodically trashed on the inside, was still an impressive structure. The grand staircase was an architectural masterpiece of woven steel down to the marble buttresses (rare as gold to the colonists because it was so hard to ship), the thick carpet--where it was not newly stained with unknown substances--was a luscious, deep red, and the luxuries of the governor's office were no exception.
Commander Une seemed to take no note of the surroundings, she walked through the building, straight past the French double-doors with gold- plated handles, and around the dark mahogany desk like it was her own. She didn't wait for her subordinates to close the door or sit down before settling into the high-backed leather seat and pinpointing her demanding gaze on each member of the silent team, in order. Her eyes asked the question they knew would arise first when she got to the end of their row and lingered on the empty space they had unconsciously formed between Heero and Trowa.
Quatre unconsciously straightened under the fierce woman's eyes, but he was at a loss on how to start their debriefing. He was at a lost, in general. His greatest strength to their group was his ability to plan the best strategies by predicting enemy movements and understanding the opposing force's motivations enough to outmaneuver or outwit them. That just wasn't possible here...even if he could control his emotions--which were running mad circles in his chest-- there was too much unexplained and inexplicable. And most of it centered on someone he thought he knew well enough not to have to predict his actions, someone he had trusted.
There was no pain in the world like the utter betrayal of a loved one, except the sickening dread that came from the possible causes of that betrayal. How could you break a Gundam pilot? His jaw clenched as his mind flashed various colorful images for his answer, but the truth remained...
"I want to know what the hell is going on. I've never seen or heard of anything like this! My people have been trained to take down terrorists, not street gangs! How the hell did these people get the equipment for--"
"Duo's a spy."
Quatre's voice startled even himself. He jerked his eyes off the piece of the wall he had been staring at while at attention and he repeated himself to the wide-eyed woman. Our friend stabbed us in the back, dear Lady. Can't you see how it's killing us?
"Duo's a spy? When did you decide to do that? We've got most of the leaders in custody already, there's no need for him to put himself in more danger--" she stopped, her voice dropping off as she caught the frigid looks on the young soldiers' faces. "How did he infiltrate--?"
"Not for us, Commander Une," Wufei bit each word like it was tearing out his stomach, "for them. He's a traitor."
Quatre's ears rang and for a moment he wondered if he had gone deaf. No one else in the opulent room made a move or spoke a word and the annoying sirens had been turned off some moments before. In the shock and weariness of the recent events it was easy for him to calmly ponder the possibility of sudden hearing loss at less than twenty years of age from only emotional turmoil. After another moment he could make out the beating of his own heart, it was raging against his rib cage, his breath was just short of panting, and his eyes threatened to spill saline. All at a simple word: traitor.
The blonde felt a hand entangle with his own and he turned his head instinctively, (slightly upwards and to the right, a pure habit of his heart) meeting Trowa's green eyes straight on. Though the Heavyarms pilot was ambidextrous, his left hand had always had a slightly stronger grip, thus he often positioned himself to Quatre's right. It was an unconscious move that they both drew comfort from.
However, this time, when Quatre's eyes wandered, his throat constricted at the nearly gaunt face and bruised features of the man he loved. He took a deep, shuddering breath at the memories of their reunion, so few hours ago; when he had first attached that simple word to one of the people he trusted and cared for most in the world. But he had never--none of them had ever--actually spoken it aloud.
Traitor. Duo. But was that the whole truth?
"That's impossible," Commander Une pulled her head back defensively at the deadly looks the four men shot as she stubbornly pushed on. "I was in contact with Maxwell just over...four hours ago."
He could feel the blood rushing out of his face, disbelief was clear in the faces of his comrades as they exchanged quick glances. This time it was Heero who spoke out, his voice fluctuated with emotion much more than Quatre had heard in a long time--if ever.
"We escaped from where he had been holding Trowa prisoner these last two weeks just under three hours ago. We ran into him, but he...wasn't himself. He recognized what we were, but not who... Then he escaped with the leader. A tall blonde man, dressed in black, maybe going by the fake name 'Solo.'"
"'He wasn't himself?'" Lady Une repeated thoughtfully, then silenced any further explanations with a sudden wave of her hand. She drummed her fingers on the well-polished desktop, thinking quickly and finally stood quickly. "I want you to see something."
She ignored their questioning looks and called out of the room. A technician--or at least an able-looking young man in a blue jumper and wires sticking out of every available pocket--was soon head to head with the woman. He nodded at her quick directions and moved to the desk. With a few buttons pushed and the right keys pressed, the man had the computer and tele-console running; more difficult was the man's efforts to access the Preventor's online archives from the strange computer. (2)
Ultimately, though, he was successful and took the Commander's thanks with a bright smile (which faltered at the coldness of the room's other inhabitance), then took a hasty leave.
Une turned the tele-console towards the four remaining pilots and spoke as she worked busily at the computer, digging through the Preventor database quickly to find her prize. "All communications during missions are recorded and stored in case of acts of sabotage, corruption, law suits, and such."
The monitor facing them suddenly flared to life, a familiar face frozen upon it with a striking smile that had been missing from the real life version for some time. It drove home how much the other young man had changed in the last few weeks. He was dressed in a faded black shirt and black slacks...was Une showing them the communication from earlier that day?
~Oi! It's Maxwell here! We're going to need some back up down here.~ Duo's voice was back to it's light-hearted tone and the smile was still plastered on.
**Agent Maxwell, where is your team leader?** Une's disembodied voice was also her same no-nonsense tone, making the image of Duo wince.
~Heero's a bit tied up with the bad guys at the moment. Don't worry, we're all okay. We're getting Trowa out in less than an hour; we'll need a distraction a little after that. I think an all out attack would be sufficent.~ Duo grinned.
Quatre's brow furled as he realized how much he missed that pure- hearted smile. Within his own worried world, in the two weeks when Trowa had been gone, he had become blind. In the few days Heero, Duo, Wufei, and himself had spent preparing for the small assault/rescue mission he hadn't realized that that key part of the America's image had disappeared without warning. He missed it now and seeing it for the first time in months on a flat screen was a knife to his heart.
**What exactly have you gotten yourself into?** Commander Une's voice had a slight sarcastic ring to the end. All she knew was that she was dealing with the most rambunctious of the five Gundam pilots at a crucial time in their operation. If she had known his actions on the colony surface, who knows what her tone would have been?
~Oh, come on!~ the boy whined playfully. ~You guys shouldn't have too much trouble rounding up the bad guys. Gathering the evidence is going to be a much more wracking job.~
Not waiting for a response to that he continued, seemingly at an increased speed. ~The gangs have united, not too big a deal, but most of them have been trained by one army or another over the years. The Alliance and Oz seem to have taken to using street kids as canon fodder. They know how to use their guns. Oh, their artillery's compliments of Rendwell, Inc. and Tom Johanson, by the way, check the governor's private accounts for the money transactions; he was helping store the weapons on the colony so we couldn't find them in a search-and-seizure of the cooperation. Great huh?--
**Une's sputtering was heard, but Duo didn't pause**
~--But most of their stuff has been sabotaged, thanks to some friends of a friend. They'll be dropping by so let them do what they want, they've earned it. Oh, gonna say 'hi'?~ Duo smiled at something off screen and footsteps were heard. A new figure hunched over the console screen, also smiling.
Pure hatred rolled off the pilots in waves as the blonde man placed his hand on the shoulder of their comrade, but the surprises didn't end there.
**Anderson?!** Four eyes shot to the present Une's face as her recorded voice continued, **What the hell are you doing there?**
~Just helping out some friends, Miss Une.~ Anderson replied, kindly if obliquely.
**I didn't even know the two of you knew each other.**
The blonde's eyebrows arched upwards and he chuckled a little as his eyes met Duo's. ~Maxwell? I've known him since before he even had a name to call his own. Right, Kid?~
The recorded Duo--true to their memories--stuck out his tongue at the older man, and they both laughed. But his smiled faded quickly and his tone turned disturbingly serious, ~Well, we've gotta go... Good- bye, Commander Une.~
The recording ended with Duo's pale hands moving to his head.
Duo said 'Good-bye?' He never said good-bye. Even in the wars it was 'See ya' (in hell, if you were on the wrong side of his scythe) or 'Ja ne' to annoy Heero--in a moment of seriousness he'd whispered things like 'So this'll end everything?'--but never that.
"What the HELL is he--has he--was he doing?!" Wufei exploded at last. "None of this makes sense! Every new clue we find sets us two steps back! Is Duo a traitor or not? Who the hell is that guy and why were the gangs following him? If he's their leader, why did he give them to us on a silver platter?"
"I think this is all connected to Duo in some way. Just instinct, but it feels right," Trowa answered, though he was just as disoriented as his companions. Or maybe that was his body finally shutting down. Either way he dropped his death grip on his lover's hand and wandered to the circle of chairs that had been ignored until now.
"Something's happened to him, brain washing or control of some kind, that's for sure, with how Anderson used that password to get him to escape. It might also explain his behavior, somewhat." He slowly lowered his body into a cushy leather chair and allowed his shoulders to slump as he tried to mentally pull the conflicting events into order. It felt like physical labor, his thoughts became more muddled and less substantial as the meeting wore on. Little did he know what rude awakening was waiting for him.
"Where do you know this Anderson from, Commander," Heero's voice was steel and his sentence wasn't poised as a question.
The sudden silence of the speakers after almost three hours of blaring noise was a blessing to the Preventors and colonists alike. Unfortunately, because of the completeness of the silence, the Gundam pilot's voices carried even down to the streets.
The shuttle looked frozen in orbit to the naked eye, but there was no one in sight to see it. If someone could have ran a scan of the ship they would have seen some very interesting things--decoy buoys, light artillery, and the Preventor signature would draw anyone's curiosity-- if they could see it. As it was, though the ship was undetectable to machines and hidden in the shadow of a nearby, rundown resource satellite, but close enough to the rebel colony to pirate the Preventor communications without being detected. Perfect, in Maxwell's opinion.
"Sounds like everything has run according to plan, Solo," Anderson sighed, stretching his stiff muscle as much as he could as they protested the long hours spent in the small craft.
The boy next to him smiled sadly and shook his chestnut topped head. "Sorry, Solo's gone now. As much as I once cared for and admired the old friend of that name, I can't stand it anymore."
"So you took the medication already?" the older man looked at him in genuine surprise and was faced with a sly grin.
"What? You think I'd suddenly start singing 'The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Music?' Sorry, Anderson, but I've had a lot of dealings with these multi-personality disorders and the treatment doesn't necessarily make the world a more perfect place," Duo half- joked. "Unless you liked that psycho?"
Anderson shook his head quickly, putting his hands up in mock defeat. "No, thank you! You're hard enough to deal with without you forgetting who I am and freaking out every five minutes." The man continued to study the longhaired pilot with a worried expression. "Are you sure you can control him? Even if the medication turns out not to work?--God, I don't know why you let them play with your head in the first place!"
Faster than the eye could move, the boy placed a firm grip on the blonde's arm and they stared into each other's eyes for a long moment. "I did what I had to, you know that. The governor wouldn't have let me near the guns without some kind of proof that I was loyal to you, same with the gangs. Now they're both being taken down; one false swoop, as they say. We have to trust that the Preventors will handle the work of taking down Johanson, at least, and pray that the fat-ass politician kept his files detailed enough to finger Rendwall as well!"
The American man caught the worried gaze of his companion and continued in a softer tone. "We all have to make sacrifices for the good of the cause, right? Your cause to help the lost children of humanity--the crews of L2, especially--for which, I am eternally grateful and just happened to coincide with mine." The older man shook his head, waving off any thanks. "Stopping weapons manufacturing and distribution is all I've got to live for these days. If this works out, my cause will be that much secure."
"Was bring them down worth all that you've sacrificed, though? I know how much it hurt you to betray your friends; even if they repressed your memories so far that it split your personalities even farther. Maxwell--"
"I created the image of Solo for three specific reasons. One: to do what I couldn't do, even under mind control: betray the other Gundam pilots and lead the Preventors to L2 at the appropriate time when the unification would begin to break apart on it's own. The risk of casualties was lowest that way, especially when you enlisted the crews to sabotage the weapons in storage. Two: was to gain the trust of the both the arms dealers and the gangs by 'breaking'. For a Gundam pilot they wouldn't have settled for anything less. And finally," he wound up with a small smile, "full filling my promises to the ghosts of my past.
"So, you see, it wasn't such a huge sacrifice, really. The damn guy just got out of my control when I was too confused to know what was happening. The most painful part of Solo's persona was not being able to stop him from hurting Trowa," the boy's eyes were brimmed with tears and he cracked his knuckles loudly, wincing at each painful pop.
Anderson sat silently, not knowing what to do to comfort the young man, just watching the stars twinkle until he couldn't stand the quiet anymore. "So, when are we heading back?"
"Are you nuts?" the boy scoffed. "Heero has probably got most of this figured out yet, but all the important stuff is just between you and me. He thinks you kidnapped and brainwashed me. You do know who Heero is, right? The Perfect Soldier? He'll shoot you first and ask--no, wait, he'll just shoot."
"Sounds charming," Anderson smiled. "We're still going."
"I don't think--"
"I know," Anderson cut him off sharply and fixed a hard look on the jokester, "what you're thinking, but I can't work with the Preventors plastering my wanted posters all over the colonies. I do have a reputation to keep, you know." Duo sputtered out a few sounds, but Anderson would not give up his speech. "And you've got to close the wounds you've caused before they fester, Maxwell."
Duo shook his head childishly in response.
"Duo, you're friends deserve the truth. A lie of omission is still a lie; remember your promise to Father Maxwell."
The boy pouted and grunted angrily.
"I didn't hear you, Duo."
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