Chapter 56: "Overthrown"
The braided Guardian turned quickly at his friend's voice. "Hey. Has Wufei calmed down a little? I tried to--" he stopped, studying the other boy's face in confusion as Heero approached slowly. "Damn, man, what's wrong with you?"
Heero frowned slightly. "What?"
"Don't 'what' me. You look like someone just ran over your puppy."
Heero's face shifted into stone automatically. "It's nothing," he said shortly. He glanced around to make sure they were alone, but he hadn't passed any guards in the hall on his way to catch up with the other boy. A little paranoid voice in the back of his head began muttering in worry, but he ignored it. "What were you thinking?" he demanded.
Duo eyed him warily. "You mean Hilde? Come off it. It's not like I was trying to get her pregnant." He blew out an explosive breath of air, scratching at his scalp in distress. "And there's really no 'thinking' involved when it comes to liking someone," he muttered. "Your brain doesn't always give way for common sense." He flicked Heero a significant look. "You should know that by now."
Heero's mouth tightened. "That won't be a problem anymore."
"What is that supposed to--"
The shriek of the alarm had them both ducking instinctively, hands flying for their swords. "What the HELL--"
"It's the alarm in the Gundam bunker," Heero shouted. "You check on Wufei, I'll see what's going on outsi--"
A sudden explosion rocked the ground under their feet, and they threw themselves flat. Dust and plaster, shaken loose from the ceiling overhead, rained down on their heads.
"FUCK," Duo snarled. "What the FUCK, what the FUCK?!"
"SHUT UP!" Heero snapped tensely, reaching up to wipe dust hastily from his eyes and peering around. He could hear shouting from all over, but still no guards came running. "Something's wrong."
Another explosion, this one closer than before, sent cracks flying up the walls. A woman shrieked in fear somewhere in the building.
Heero's heart froze in his chest, making it difficult to breathe. He stared forward at nothing, bewildered by the flash of panic that streaked through his veins.
The thought was there and gone again like an icy breeze. He shook himself roughly, getting up into a squatting position.
"Get the children out!!"
He turned his head, staring in confusion at the woman standing poised to flee at the end of the hall. Her habit was covered in dust, her face pale and terrified, but she didn't make any move for the exit. "FATHER MAXWELL--" she screamed.
Heero jolted, scrambling back and knocking his head against the wall sharply. He winced, blinking rapidly at the pain, but when he looked towards the end of the hall again, the woman was gone.
Duo scuttled across the hallway and stood up just long enough to take a quick peek out of a window. He dropped back down almost immediately, swearing under his breath.
"Duo--" Heero shook his head, trying to clear it. "Who was that woman? What's--"
"Woman? What woman?" Duo demanded impatiently.
Heero stared at him. "The woman... she was shouting..." He looked away, but she didn't reappear. "Shouting about children and..."
"I didn't hear any woman, Heero, snap out of it. We've got bigger prob--"
"And Father Maxwell."
Duo went very still. His gaze was suddenly sharp and suspicious, and when he spoke, his voice was dangerously calm. "What did you say?"
"Nothing," Heero muttered, feeling foolish. "I thought I saw--" He looked at Duo quickly. "Wufei. He said he was seeing things. Things from his past..." he trailed off, angry at his own confusion. "But I've never--" He snarled angrily. "Never mind. We need to find Wufei--"
Duo's eyes narrowed, and he leaned forward to stare at his friend intently, reaching out to seize Heero's arm. "No," he said firmly when Heero tried to pull away. "This is important, Heero. What did Wufei say?"
"What does it matter now??" Heero demanded impatiently. "We have to--"
They ducked as yet another explosion hit, this one on the other side of the compound. "Answer me, Heero!" Duo shouted. "What did Wufei say??"
Heero glared at him. "He said Nezha made a deal with him in another life," he snapped. "That he would keep coming back until he got her what she wanted. And now the deal's done, and he keeps seeing parts of past lives. But what the hell does that have to do with me? And why the hell do you care?"
"A deal?" Duo's voice was sharp in sudden alarm. "What sort of deal?" His eyes flickered to the lump under Heero's clothes where ruyi was hidden. "What did he get in return?"
"I don't know!" Heero tried to yank his arm away, but Duo's grip was surprisingly strong. "We don't have time for this--"
"Just answer me, damn it!"
"She said she'd give him back something that was precious to him-- I don't know, and neither does Wufei-- LET GO, IDIOT!"
Duo stared at him in disbelief, grip going slack. "...No fucking way," he murmured incredulously, gaze flickering towards where Heero had seen the woman. He leaned back abruptly, face haunted. "You can't be..."
Heero shoved him aside and ran to the window. His eyes widened in disbelief at the sight before him. "Duo-- who the hell is piloting Deathscythe??"
Duo stared back at him blankly.
Heero seized him by his arms and hauled him bodily to his feet. "We have to find Wufei," he snarled. "MOVE, Maxwell!"
"There they are!"
Both boys twisted around at the shout. Three men had appeared at the end of the hall, and were pointing excitedly in their direction. Heero took one look at their uniforms and took off running, practically dragging Duo behind him. They turned a corner just in time-- Duo yelped as a gun went off, scorching the wall by his head.
"Dude, we can take 'em!" Duo shouted, straining to get loose. "Just gimmie my--"
"No, we have to find Wufei," Heero snarled. "They'll be after him."
"They're after US, Yuy!"
"Split up," Heero said shortly, pushing Duo down one hallway and turning down the other. "If you find Wufei, get him out of here!"
Duo only hesitated for a second. Drawing his sword and cursing under his breath, he took off running.
Relena gave a little shriek of surprised fear at a loud thump on the door.
Mingzhu strode over to the door quickly, double checking the lock.
"Fei, open the door!" a voice called.
"It's Shen," Wufei said in surprise.
Mingzhu hastily unlocked the door, opening it just enough for Shen and a flustered guard to squirm through before slamming it closed and locking it again.
Shen glanced around at them all quickly, letting out a breath of relief. "Good, you're both here. Fei, you and Miss Peacecraft need to get off the grounds as soon as possible."
"Where are the rest of the guards?" Mingzhu demanded tightly. "What is going on out there?"
"I have two more men just outside," Shen said, motioning to Hilde. "You and the girl go with them."
"I'm not leaving Wufei," Hilde said firmly, clutching her friend's arm with shaking fingers.
"We have to split up," Shen insisted. "It will be too hard trying to get all of you out at once. I'll wait until you're gone, then take Fei and Miss Peacecraft. More guards are on the way."
"What's going on?" Wufei demanded. "Are we under attack? Those explosions--"
"I thought no one could pilot Deathscythe but Duo," Hilde put in nervously.
"Just be thankful the rest of the Gundams aren't under the enemy's control," Shen pointed out grimly. "Now come along."
"No, Shen," Mingzhu said in a hard voice. "Fei is my responsibility as much as he is yours. Take the girl if you must."
"I'm not going anywhere!" Hilde said hotly.
"Go, Hilde," Wufei murmured. "We'll be right behind you."
Hilde glared up at him. "I'm not leaving you."
The guard and Shen exchanged a harried look.
"Do you have a plan?" Mingzhu demanded. Shen nodded and strode over to the window, taking a cautious glance outside.
Relena moved closer to Wufei, her prior anger towards him forgotten in her fear. She was shaking slightly, her fingers clutching her sleeves as she tried to keep a brave face. "What's going on?" she murmured.
Wufei shook his head. "I don't know. It doesn't make sense. If there are enemies on the grounds, how did they get here?"
Relena shuddered. "At least the explosions have stopped." She gave a little gasp. "Oh-- Wufei, my father-- your grandfather--"
Wufei swallowed hard. "They're fine," he said firmly. "The infirmary is on the other side of the building."
Relena stared up at him wide-eyed, but didn't argue.
Hilde reached out impulsively and clasped her hand comfortingly.
"Shen." Wufei took a step towards the man. "You said something about how this Mark can give me.. 'power'. To protect everyone."
Mingzhu looked at him sharply.
Shen glanced over his shoulder at him. "I told you not to mess with it, Fei. It's dangerous."
"This is not the time to be cautious," Wufei snapped. "If I have the ability to protect my people, I need to use it!"
Shen hesitated. "...Very well." He nodded to the others. "Please, take a seat. You, too, Wufei."
Relena and Hilde seated themselves nervously on the edge of the bed, while Wufei perched on the desk chair, waiting impatiently. "How does this work?"
"Shen, this is dangerous," Mingzhu cautioned.
Shen ignored her. "I have to help you," he admitted, running a hand through his hair fretfully. "Are you sure--"
"Yes," Wufei interrupted. "Now what do I do?"
Shen came over and stood before him. He grimaced slightly. "I know you're not going to like this, but I have to have contact with the Mark."
Wufei blinked, then frowned. "You can't."
"No, I mean literally, you can't. I told you what happens if..." he flicked a guilty look towards Relena, "if other people try to touch it. And you're the one who said it would be dangerous for people to touch it now that it's matured."
"I said if people you don't trust try to touch it, it will retaliate," Shen corrected, gazing at him somberly. "Do you trust me?"
Mingzhu frowned uneasily.
Wufei nodded. "Of course I do."
"Then I should be fine." He took a deep breath and motioned with his hand.
Wufei hesitated, then shrugged out of his over-robe and reached back to lift his shirt, exposing his back. Relena watched in a mixture of curiosity and trepidition from across the room. Wufei met her gaze, trying to sound reassuring. "It'll be fine," he insisted.
Then Shen's fingers were skimming down his back and there was a familiar warm glow as his touch fell on the Mark. Wufei relaxed minutely. It wasn't reacting badly; Shen had been right.
"Thank you for trusting me, Fei," Shen murmured.
Then the world exploded in searing pain.
Upon entering the underground shed and seeing a startled group of strangers clustered around the Gundams, Quatre had reacted without hesitating. He slammed his fist into the alarm box by the door. Trowa jumped as the siren began screeching, then the men were shouting and lifting guns.
"DOWN," Trowa barked, throwing himself at Quatre. Gunfire ripped the air over their heads as they landed in a heap.
"They have guns--" Quatre gasped. "Why do they have guns?!"
"Recognize the uniforms?" Trowa growled, rolling off of Quatre and drawing his sword with a hiss of steel.
"But- that's impossible!" Quatre protested, ducking quickly behind a crate. "How did they get on the colony??" He drew his own sword, staring at the blade for a moment. He had hoped to never pull the weapon again. And now...
"Swords aren't much contest for guns," Trowa pointed out grimly from where he was crouching behind a stack of crates to Quatre's left. "A stand-off isn't going to last long. They'll rush us eventually."
Quatre licked dry lips, tightening his grip on the hilt of his sword and chancing a quick peek. He ducked when a shot went off dangerously close. "But Wufei--"
"Heero will look after him," Trowa said firmly. "All we can do is make sure none of these men do anything to the Gundams. They might be planning on using them as weapons."
Quatre hesitated, then peeked again, quicker this time. "Some of them are trying to get the hatches open. I know they won't get Sandrock to work," he said confidently. "I doubt they'll have much luck with the others, either." They stared at each other as the familiar sound of a Gundam's systems coming online filtered through the hangar.
"Except maybe Deathscythe," Quatre finished weakly.
Trowa cursed under his breath. "If they get control of all of them--"
"They won't," Quatre said firmly. "We're too closely tied to our Gundams-- they're ours. But Duo hasn't spent as much time in the cockpit; hasn't gotten to know his as well."
"Quatre, they're machines," Trowa said sharply.
"Then why can't they get Sandrock's hatch open?" Quatre retorted. He took a deep breath. "There's no way we can stop Deathscythe from leaving this hangar," he pointed out.
"...No." Trowa shifted his sword, using it as a makeshift mirror. "Some of them are coming this way." Above them, the gates rumbled and creaked as they slowly began to open for Deathscythe's dark form to exit. "We'll have to fight--"
"They'll kill us," Quatre interrupted.
"Drop your weapons!" one of the uniformed men shouted. "Come out with your hands up! You can die like dogs or come along peacefully!"
"We can't die down here, Trowa," Quatre implored. "If they're willing to just take us in, we have a better chance of helping Wufei than we do if we're trapped down here."
Trowa hesitated, glancing towards the stairs. "Run," he said shortly. "I'll distract them."
Quatre's eyes widened. "They'll kill you!"
"I'll be fast."
"I'm fairly certain their guns are faster!"
"Just run, Quatre," Trowa said, glaring across at him. "Get to Wufei."
"I'm not leaving you here--" Quatre broke off as his friend shifted in preparation for a rush. He leaned over quickly and tossed his sword as far as he could. Trowa stared at him in disbelief.
"We're coming out," Quatre shouted. "Don't shoot!"
"Quatre-" Trowa hissed.
"If they shoot me, you'll know they're bluffing," Quatre whispered. "Then make a run for it."
Legs shaking, Quatre got slowly to his feet, hands high over his head. He held his breath, waiting for the sting of laser fire to strike.
"Come over here and keep your hands where we can see 'em," one of the men ordered, aiming at him with his gun. "And if your little friend knows what's good for him, he'll do the same."
Quatre took a hesitant step their way. He turned slightly in surprise at the sound of steel striking concrete. Trowa's sword skittered past him, out of reach, and the taller boy rose from hiding, face expressionless, hands in the air.
The man in front gave a grin and took aim.
Trowa gave a sharp noise of pain and collapsed to the floor.
"Don't move!" the man barked.
Quatre forced himself to freeze, staring down at his friend in horror.
Trowa lay on his back, face twisted in agony, teeth clenched to hold back a scream as his hands clutched at his bloodied knee.
Quatre turned on the men furiously. "We've surrendered!" he shouted. "What are you doing?!"
The man laughed at him and motioned with his gun. Two men moved forward. "Get 'em inside."
Hilde's shriek barely made it through the waves of pain as Wufei toppled forward out of the chair and landed hard on the carpet. "WUFEI!!"
"Shen!" Mingzhu's voice was sharp with alarm. "What have you done?"
Wufei fought to get air into his lungs, fingers digging into the carpet like claws. Everything was tinged with red, and his stomach flipped with the desire to empty its contents. He could barely think straight. This was worse than what Treize had done to him. He lay in the fetal position, unable to move, fighting desperately to breathe without passing out. The voices around him seemed muted and unreal as he dragged his eyes up to stare in disbelief at Shen.
The older man was gazing down at him grimly. "Foolish, Chang," he admonished. "You trust too easily." He turned his head, voice irritated. "Control the girl, idiot."
Wufei blinked slowly, forcing himself to focus as he turned his head slowly and painfully to see who Shen was talking to.
Mingzhu had put herself protectively in front of Relena, but Hilde was lunging against the guard's grip, trying to get at Shen. "What did you do to him?!"
The guard shoved her roughly, and she landed on the bed hard. The guard stepped towards her, sword upheld.
"Don't," Shen barked. "Just keep them from doing anything stupid."
"Shen.." Mingzhu's voice shook with anger. "You traitorous dog--"
"Shut your mouth, you old hag," Shen sneered. He jerked his thumb towards the door. "Get them to the main hall. I'll have to carry Fei. He's not going to be able to walk for awhile."
"The General wanted him alive," the guard pointed out, eyeing Wufei warily. "He looks like he's got a foot in death's door."
"He'll be helpless for at least another hour or two," Shen said confidently. "Now go."
Hilde shot to her feet and lunged at the guard.
Startled, he stumbled back, lifting his blade but unable to use it in such close quarters as she struck at him with her fists. He cursed as a blow caught him in the face. "Stupid BITCH," he snarled, snatching her wrist and heaving her across the room. She hit the wall hard and sank to the floor.
"NO!" Relena screamed. Mingzhu's grip on her arm tightened to keep her still.
Wufei opened his mouth, but no noise would come out. He shut his eyes tightly, desperately clinging to consciousness.
He could hear the guard bullying them out of the room, and forced his eyes open again.
Shen had gone over to Hilde. He squatted beside her crumpled form and seized her chin in hard fingers, jerking her face up to stare at her intently.
She glared back up at him, shaking with the urge to retaliate but mindful of the sword in his other hand.
"...I'll be damned," Shen muttered. "I was sure I had to be wrong, but there's no mistaking it..." He released her with a noise of disgust. "No wonder the old fart allowed you to stay here. Sentimental old fool." He rose and put the tip of his sword to her exposed throat. "We don't need half-bloods like you," he said coldly.
Wufei fought fiercely with his own motor functions, but they refused to obey his commands to get to his feet. He tried to shout again, but the air froze in his lungs.
A boot passed by his face, and he gave a small jolt, startled. No one wore boots on the colony-- except--
Duo Maxwell was across the room in a few quick strides, silent as a wraith. Shen froze as one of the pilot's knife blades tickled his throat.
"Duo," Hilde gasped in surprise and relief.
"Get the fuck away from her," Duo suggested coldly.
Shen turned his head slightly, trying to see him without moving too much. After a moment he reluctantly lowered his sword. Duo brought up his other hand in a blurring move, cracking the hilt of his sword against the back of Shen's head. The man collapsed without a sound.
"Oh, Duo," Hilde sobbed. "Duo--"
He was kneeling before her in an instant, catching her when she dove at him. "Jesus," he breathed in her hair. "What the hell is going on here?"
"He said something about Treize... Wufei--" Hilde pulled away from him suddenly. "He did something to Wufei-- to his Mark--"
"Fuckin' A." Duo got to his feet, stepping over Shen's unconscious form and going quickly to Wufei. "Heero went to look for him, but I'll bet he went to Wufei's room first. Glad I came to check on you." He gripped Wufei by the shoulders and manuevered him carefully into a sitting position, propping him against the wall.
Wufei blinked hard a few times, nauseous and disoriented after the movement. He was finding it harder to focus, and the agony in his lower back was coming in waves that shook his body.
Hilde rushed over and fell into a crouch, clutching Wufei's hand. She looked like she was fighting back tears. "What did he do to him?! Is he going to be okay?"
"I don't know," Duo admitted gruffly, peering at Wufei closely. "Shen knew what he was doing."
Wufei opened his mouth, swallowed, and tried again. "Energy," he managed to rasp. "Heero..."
"What?" Duo rocked back on his heels dubiously. "That time on earth when Heero transferred energy through your Mark-- is that what you mean?" He grimaced. "Technically, any of your Guardians should be able to do it," he allowed. "But I'm not sure it's such a good idea so soon after..."
Wufei reached out clumsily and gripped the hilt of Duo's sword, glaring up at him fiercely. "Need to.. fight," he managed to gasp.
"You can help him?" Hilde asked quickly. "How? With his Mark?" She reached behind Wufei quickly. "I'll help."
"NO, Hilde," Duo said quickly.
Wufei jumped, blinking in surprise as a faint wash of relief spread through his body.
A moment later the pain was back, and Hilde was leaning away again, looking at Duo in confusion. "What? You said we can help him, right?"
Wufei stared at her in confusion. Had her touch...?
"You're not a Guardian," Duo said firmly. "It might lash out at you." He tugged on his braid, torn. "Wufei, I know you wanna fight," he said quietly. "But I am probably the last Guardian you need touching your Mark. Hell, it might kill me. Besides, you two need to get the hell outta here. We can take care of Kushrenada and the others."
Wufei glared at him. "No... time," he said through gritted teeth. "Try."
Duo glanced quickly towards Hilde, hesitating.
"Just try," Hilde begged. "If it hurts, then stop. But you have to try! We don't have time to find the others, and unless you want to carry Wufei out of here..."
"All right, all right," Duo gave in. He took a deep breath and removed his sword, placing it in Wufei's hand. "Here." He handed his knife over to Hilde. "I don't know what's gonna happen. It might just hurt me, or it might..." he trailed off. "Just... don't give me these back, okay?"
Hilde stared at him, wide-eyed. "Duo, what are you talking about? You're scaring me."
They all froze at the cold voice from the door.
Phillips stepped in, gun trained on Hilde. "Drop your weapons." Three men, dressed in the uniform of Treize's army, crowded the doorway behind him.
Hilde dropped the knife hastily.
"Kick your weapons away."
Snarling, Duo tossed the knife aside and took his sword back from Wufei, flinging it aside before fixing Phillips with a glare of hate.
Phillips just smiled back. "This colony is officially under the control of General Kushrenada and his daughter. Don't bother putting up a fight; if you think I'll hesitate before opening fire on you or your little girlfriend, you're dead wrong." He nodded to the men behind him. "Check Shen. And bring these three to the main hall with the others."
One of the men seized Duo and forced him out of the door, struggling and spitting curses the whole way.
"Get him up," Phillips ordered coolly.
With trembling hands, Hilde took Wufei's arm and tried to get him to his feet. Phillips watched her struggle for a moment before giving a sharp bark of laughter. "Looks like Shen did a real number on you, boy. You- carry him." He reached out and seized Hilde's arm in a hard grip as the third guard moved forward to scoop up Wufei and toss him over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.
Wufei gritted his teeth in rage at his own helplessness, trying to fight back, but his body was still unresponsive and aching. Phillips followed them out of the room, smiling when Wufei glared back at him.
"I think the General will actually prefer you this way," he said nastily.
Wufei felt a shudder of revulsion shake his frame, but could do nothing but bare his teeth in defiance.
"You'll never get away with this," Hilde snarled, straining against the gray-eyed man's hard grip.
"How cliche, my dear." Phillips smirked. "But we already have."
Author's Notes: Snow Patrol is good music for writing HB XD kekeke
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