My apologies to those of you who have been oh-so-patiently (and in a few cases, not so patiently) waiting for me to finish the next bit of this fic.  I have been ill, adopted several cats and taken in a new roommate.  At any rate, here you are.  Enjoy.

 


Title: Two Roads Diverged 
Part 4/?
Author: Truth


AU - The sequel to It's the Pilot - Wherein
we see the Gundam Wing Universe as it might
have been, had Duo not been sidetracked just 
before Noventa's death.

First person stream of consciousness/POV.

Rated PG-13 at least.

Warning: We are going to go _very_ AU here, although I do want to stick as close to the original time line as possible. From here on out, massive liberties will be taken with the various characters as I try to decide how they will react to these new situations. Think of it as an exercise in psychology. Fer instance, the Wufei in this fic has already lost his complete faith in justice and fairness.... Which will change the direction of the plot significantly.... Just think about the major events in the episode or two following the Noventa assassination....



**********

Treize never ceases to amaze me.

I have seen him kiss people before. It’s simply another tool in his arsenal to be used in influencing those who have proven ‘resistant’ to his normal methods of argument. True, he usually uses those kisses on the wives or daughters of those who prove recalcitrant rather than on his opponents directly.... And I’ve never seen him kiss _anyone_ like that before....

Treize has been pushing himself too hard. He is taking every death personally and every defeat like a blow. We are both too young for this sort of self-abuse, but I have been able to push it aside, to feel it less. For him it is like a constant torture. No matter how hard he pretends to be without emotions, without feelings, he cannot ignore it. He simply pushes it aside and locks it away, attempting to believe that it no longer hurts.

I am worried about him. Our charismatic leader is the only thing driving us forward. If OZ were left to the Romafeller foundation without his leadership, God alone knows what would become of us all. We have ground almost to a halt in our offensive against the remnants of the Alliance armies, and the Gundams.... 

I am not going to think about that.

However, there may yet be a way to keep the slavering hounds of Romafeller away from the brutal regime that they seem more and more determined to have. Lieutenant Otto has found something marvelous.

A very short while ago, Otto stumbled across something which just may keep the balance of power a bit more even. He has found a Gundam. It is in terrible shape and far older than I am, but he swears that he can make it functional once more. Or at least, reattach the head. I am not holding out much hope, but still.... Something about the machine seems to call to me. I want to see it repaired. I want to see it _fly_. And yet....

Otto is capable. More, he has intelligence and imagination. But he is not truly combat material. He puts too much of his heart into everything, draining himself totally in pursuit of his vision. I would not put him in the cockpit of that Gundam. Which leads me to the next problem.

He wants me to pilot this Gundam. In truth, Tallgeese calls to something inside me. I can close my eyes and imagine what it must be like to pilot a true Gundam and a sense of awe takes my breath away. However, it is also a lethal trap. After holding and controlling so much raw power, could I ever go back to anything else? Could I ever become anything more?

I have seen the readouts on the new Gundam 04. I know that Lady Une is not convinced that it is truly a different machine, but Noin believes it and I trust her judgement. I have also studied the results of the tests on the captured Gundam 05. The power contained within those machines and the amount of control and willpower required to operate them.... It makes me both excited and afraid.

In the depths of my soul I want nothing more than to seize that power - take it as my own. This is why I became the Lightning Count. A lust for power and revenge is not ‘appropriate’ for the man I was born to be. It would be better if another were found to pilot the Tallgeese.

Otto is afraid that no one else _can_ do it. He may be right. Worse, he has come up with an argument that I cannot ignore and a baser part of me screams to accept. He is offering me the chance to face Maxwell again, this time from within a Gundam of my own. I _crave_ the chance to meet Maxwell while he is in control of his Gundam. No one has ever so much as seen the thing and lived to tell of it. What a competition that would be....

Snapping out of such daydreams is difficult, at best. Seeing the reality of the ruined Tallgeese and _knowing_ that Otto will repair it makes it even more difficult. But this is all moot if the machine cannot be made combat-ready in the next few weeks. Things are moving too quickly.

More than anything in the world, I wish to crush the Alliance. I want my revenge and I want this stupid waste of innocent lives to cease. I wish to discard my mask and let that part of me which is Zechs Merquise disappear forever. 

If I take this Gundam, accept this power...will I ever be able to let go?

**************

I notified Trowa when I sent Duo and Wufei to Europe. He needed to know where they were. Two weeks later, I found myself sending him a second message, letting him know that I’d had to move them again, this time to Russia.

Their cover had been blown. Duo blames the Catalonia girl, but I think there is more to it than that. Wufei hasn’t contacted me at all, and Duo says he’s ill. That worries me. 

Duo came to the school that I am currently attending for a week, saying that Wufei needed some time alone to recuperate. He was on edge and acting twice as hyper to cover it. Something has gone terribly wrong between them, and I finally tried to force Duo to tell me what was wrong.

Nothing. He wouldn’t tell me a thing. The most I got out of him was that Wufei _would_ be fine, and that he, Duo, was going to kill Treize Kushrenada with his bare hands at some point in the very near future. You’ll have to imagine the expletives.

Duo left the day after Relena arrived. He used her arrival as his excuse to depart, actually. But he didn’t leave before challenging me. We spent a pleasant evening blowing an OZ installation to Kingdom Come just so that he could ‘prove’ that everything was ‘fine’ and that he wasn’t having any problems.

As if that proved anything.

I _know_ that Duo can work black magic with his Gundam, regardless of what is going on inside his head. His performance that evening was flawless. But if he thought to convince me that everything was indeed ‘fine’, he failed miserably.

I will simply have to wait and speak with Wufei as soon as possible.

Relena is ready, I think. She is discovering who she really is, beneath that spoiled schoolgirl exterior. She truly is a Peacecraft now, and she is determined to do what is right.

Personally, I think she is carrying this pacifism thing to rather ridiculous extremes, but it is her life and no one can live it for her.

Why then am I so worried about Duo and Wufei?

**************

Commander Treize received my report on the suspected whereabouts of the alleged replacement pilot of Gundam 02 and spent an evening going over the related files. 

This morning, he ordered me to take a division of Leos and retrieve the boy.

I delivered him to our central Earth base this evening.

The boy’s name is Lewis Jones. Another alias, probably. He is approximately 4’5" tall with blonde hair and blue eyes. He claims to hail from the L2 colony, which is probably true considering that the Gundam he was slated to pilot hails from that colony.

I find him strangely disappointing. These children who oppose the commander should be easily wiped out, and yet manage somehow to elude our every trap. This one in particular appears nothing like a warrior. He has none of the heart and fire that a true soldier should have. He is cold and his laughter is shallow.

Retreiving him was not easy.

Our information led us to a hidden base filled with the support troops commonly sighted with Gundam 04. After a brief but vicious battle, we found the cell with the prisoner. There was a second, more vicious battle when we attempted to leave the base, but we escaped. Casualties were very high, but the objective was acheived.

In the end, it is the results which matter. The end will justify the means. I believe that. I have to.

Commander Treize wants to pump the prisoner for information personally. I believe that he intends to offer the boy a place within OZ in return for information. This is not a course of action that I would have chosen and I disapprove.

In the meantime, I have assigned several guards to the prisoner. The commander will not be able to make time to see him for several days and I want to make sure that he has no opportunity to escape. The Gundam pilots appear to be particularly talented in this direction and I do not want to let yet another one slip through our fingers.

Something does not ring true about all of this. I wish I could lay my finger on it.

**************

Truth