Title: It's the Pilot - Part 2/18
Author:  Truth
Archive:  The usual places

AU - Wherein the Gundam pilots have known each other
for a little while, but the war is still stalled back
before the pilots return to space.  Meanwhile, the five
mad scientists have had sceond thoughts about some of
the pilots.  Probably OC as well, but I did my best.
First person stream of conciousness/POV.

Rated PG-13 at least.

Warning:  Strong language.  Really strong.  Don't say I didn't
warn you.

Disclaimer:  Gundam Wing belongs to somebody else,
sadly.

Feedback, comments and criticisms cheerfully accepted
at macros@skypoint.com

 
***********
 
Hi.  It's me.  
 
I am in deep shit.  Really deep shit.  What the hell
was I thinking!?

There I was, minding my own business.  Okay, minding
Trowa's business, but it's the same thing really.  That
boy needs to learn how to open up and....

Right.

 
I guess the point is that I _wasn't_ thinking.  I tend to trust
people.  It's this little problem that I have.  I think that this 
adventure has cured me of that particular failing.  
Permanently.

Anyway, there I was, not bothering anyone, and I get
this message.  It's from the Prof and he wants me to
sneak off to the OZ base.  Apparently there's some
disaffected personnel who want to help the colonies and
have agreed to smuggle Deathscythe and me back to outer
space for a refit.

This was cool!  After all, Shinigami should have all
the latest toys to play with, right?  And the secrecy
stuff was okay too.  Why let the other mad scientists
know that the Prof's got something new?  When a guy's
got a chance to get ahead, he oughtta take it!

It was easy to get away.  I waited until the others were 
busy avoiding me (yeah, some days I just feel _so_ loved)
and simply walked away.  I met the Munchkins

(little Oz guys, get it?)

at the base and they loaded up Deathscythe for me and
we were off.  I guess the schedule shipment had been
delayed, but they needed the shuttle up above for
something in a hurry, so it was supposed to go up
empty.  With the crew covering for me, who would notice
that a supposedly empty armaments shuttle was carrying
a Gundam?

 
A lot of people, actually.  The OZ organization would be
a truly terrifying military machine if the Alliance ever 
actually realized the resource it had sitting right under its
nose.  On the other hand, as a small, self-governed organization, 
it has fewer failsafes against bribery and traitors than the mostly 
bureaucratic Alliance.
 
Lucky for me, I guess.

They unpacked my Gundam for me once we were in space
and I was off.  I got to the super-secret-hidden-base
(sounds so much better than 'Prof G's lab, dontchaknow)
and that was that.

Only that wasn't that.

They took Deathscythe away to be completely rebuilt
from the ground up - and they wouldn't let me watch. 
They wouldn't let me see what they were doing or even
hint as to the upgrades.   Something was up.
 
To make matters worse, when the Prof finally got 
around to seeing me....  Well, I'll take Heero at his 
most psychopathic any day.  I could just _see_ 
the word 'deprogramming' in the Prof's
eyes when he looked at me.  I managed to get away in
one piece, though. 


I was on my absolute best behavior for the rest of the
day.

But still, I was completely in the dark.  My room
didn't have a computer hook up and I wasn't encouraged
to roam.   Not too strange.  The Prof thinks that I'm 
deranged and he doesn't want me and my practical
jokes 'underfoot'.  But I usually at least got network
access....
 
 
For the first few days I just stayed in my
room and read.  Not my usual style, you say?  Damn
right.  But the Prof has very low 'shit tolerance'
levels and I try very hard not to cross him.

Didn't think I had any self-control, didja?  Heh. 
Shows what you know.  I can be quiet and controlled if
I have to.  Well, for a little while, anyway.

I started sneaking out of my room after the sixth day. 
It was child's play to hook the monitors so they showed
me napping or reading.  I started to explore. 
 
It didn't take very long to realize that none of my old
passcodes worked anymore.  Again, not too strange.
Secret underground organizations don't usually make
it easy for people to get in.

 
Of course, I'm not 'people'.  I'm not Heero either, 
unfortunately.  But I did my best.  Took me all of
twenty minutes to gain full access to the Prof's 
system.

 
My first foray into the computer systems showed me the
new and improved (work-still-in-progress) Deathscythe. 
I fell in love all over again.  Then I was interrupted
and didn't have time to do more than cover my tracks.

My second foray into the computer system showed that
the Prof was still sending me mission parameters at my
old accounts.  I was smart enough not to access them
myself.  I also found that Trowa and Quatre had both
sent queries as to my whereabouts.  I hadn't really 
thought they'd miss me.

He'd answered that he had no idea where I was.  All
right, I knew that he didn't want to let them know
where I was, but sending missions to me when he knew I
wasn't there seemed to be pushing it.  But I didn't
want to risk my chances with those _marvelous_
upgrades, so I stayed pretty quiet.
 
More fool me.

It wasn't until the second week that I first saw
_him_.  'Him' who?  My fucking replacement, that's
who.  He's not as smart or as fast as me and it's a
damn good thing.  Otherwise he might have seen me.  I
do _not_ want to let the Prof know that I know that he
thinks I'm fucking expendable.

All right, that's pretty unreasonable.  I've always
known that I was expendable.  But to take Deathscythe
away, to spruce it up and make it so much more
incredible and then to give it to some thirteen year
old brat who'll get blown up the first time he takes a
mission?

Yeah, I'm ranting.  So fuck you.  I've got one hell of
a good reason to be pissed.  I'm overreacting, too. 
Hang on.... I'm NOT overreacting.  Not one bit.
I've given my life to these bozos!  That's really
what's making me angry, I guess.  They own me. 
Underneath it all I'm just as driven as Heero.  I don't
think I can live without Deathscythe, without being
Shinigami.  But even if I could, I couldn't live with
being replaced by a fucking incompetent.

So, what to do?

Good question.  I've been watching this kid for a month
now.  He's pretty good all right.  He'd even make a
pretty impressive mobile suit pilot.  But as far as
ranking with us Gundam pilots?   No way.  Not only
that, I don't think you guys would put up with him for
a red hot minute.  Heero would eat him for breakfast. 
Hell, I don't think even Quatre would like him.  The
kid's a complete pig.

Man, it hurts to watch him fumble around with MY Gundam
and then try to tell the crew what to do to fix the
thing so it 'works better'.  The problem isn't with my
beautiful Deathscythe - it's the pilot.  It's _always_
the pilot.  I could take that glorious machine and
wreak havoc the likes of which mankind has never seen. 
_He_ can't make it through a simple armaments test
without fucking up.  It's almost embarrassing to
watch.  He can't _hope_ to replace me.

And that started me thinking.  

I know, I know.  Spare me, okay?  I've heard all the
cracks and wiseass comments.  Here's where things get
very, very scary.

Why would the Prof even consider replacing me, with my
almost perfect track record, for this, this
incompetent?  I watched the tests for almost a week,
trying to think of something.  That's when it hit me. 
The kid might boss the crew, but his attitude toward
the Prof or anyone else who might actually be
considered his superior was... obedient?  Not quite the
right word, let me think on this for a bit.

Anyway, I've got a smart mouth.  What, did you think I
was oblivious?  I've always thought my narrative style
was quite individual.  But of all the things that I'm
not -

Docile, that's the word I wanted!

- docile is probably one thing I'll _never_ be.  But I
think I can fake it.  It may be my only chance to get
back to you guys.
 
Not that you've missed me.  

At any rate, I placed a few bugs about the old tomb and
got an earful.  Apparently, the Prof has decided that a
pilot more along the lines of Heero or Trowa would be
more 'effective' than me.  Hey, no one can be better
than Shinigami!  No one!

That's when I decided that I'd better write this down. 
I need to warn the others.  I need to warn you.  I'm
not the only one in danger of being replaced.  That's
right, you've got problems too.  You just don't know it
yet.

I can just hear you, "Get to the point, idiot!"  I'll
get there in my own sweet time and thank you for caring.

Anyway, I decided that being all quiet and polite was
getting me nowhere fast.  It'd been four or five weeks
and I was still mostly shut up in my room.  So I
volunteered to help fix things, do odd jobs around the
place.  Man, I love gadgets and machinery!

This got me out of my room and around and about the
base.  I did repairs, I helped with some wiring and
fusing projects.   All of this under supervision, of
course.  I was still being very quiet and polite. 
Think Quatre on downers.  Or maybe Trowa on happy
pills.  Just a little repressed, but oh so proper.

I then made a very serious mistake.  The Prof called me
down to see Deathscythe.  He wanted me to take it out
for a little test drive.  I was ecstatic.  The little
punk was lurking in the background, smirking.  He'd
never seen or met me and had no clue who I was.  Of
course, I know I don't look like much, but it would
have been nice to imagine that people can recognize
Shinigami when they see him.  I could tell he was dying
to see me screw up in front of the Prof.
 
Fool.  You never give your opponent an opportunity like
that one.

I took my baby out and stood it on it's head,
literally.  Have you ever noticed how the Oz suits
always fight pointing the same way up, even in zero
gravity?  Heh, an accident waiting to happen.  I took
on the test situation from 180 degree angles and 90 
degree dives.  I killed everything out there and in
record time, too.  I put myself through moves even I
wouldn't have thought possible.  Did I mention that I'm
in love?

I was amazing!!!!  Shinigami lives!!!

And when I got out, the Prof asked me what I thought. 
And I told him that it wasn't flexible enough.  I mean,
really, it wasn't anywhere near as flexible as the
original Deathscythe.  The little punk hadn't even
begun to explore the limits of what could be done, and
as a result, bugs were gonna show up later.  

I didn't say that last bit out loud, but it must have
shown in my eyes.  He knew that I knew.  Shit.

And where did that little exchange get me?  Not back
with Deathscythe where I belong.  Nope.  I was sent to
fucking military school!  That's right, military
school.  I don't know what strings Prof G pulled, but
I'm currently enrolled at a boarding school for the
children of the OZ elite.  
 
The military bound, OZ  elite.  Man, this sucks, and it 
gets worse.  How, you may ask?

I'm enrolled as Duo Maxwell, nephew and sole heir of
one Zechs Marquise.   All they left out was the pretty
red bow and the fucking gift tag.

And the goddamn school is on a sattelite station.  They
monitor everything coming in and everything going out. 
I'm not sure if they're guarding against kidnappers,
terrorists or school escapees, but they are sure as
hell paranoid around here.  I was practically delivered
in handcuffs.

Don't ask me how the Prof did it, I just hope to God
that Zechs continues to stay far, far away from the
school.  So here I sit, studying (for lack of anything
better to do).  I can't even indulge in a little
espionage.  The nasty little brats here are all
aristocrats, and they watch each other like a bunch of
rabid and starving weasels.  And the whole place is run
like a Goddamned prison.  Did I mention the lovely
atmosphere of cold vacuum?

The aristocracy hate the commoners.  There aren't many
actual commoners here, though.  The ones that I do see are all
scholarship students.  I guess that this place has a
really good reputation.  I'm not having any trouble,
though.   Well, not with the schoolwork.  It's pretty
obvious that I'm common as dirt and the little rich
boys (Sorry, Quatre) have decided that I must be a
bastard child of some sort and that makes me fair
game.  I've managed to stay out of any fights, got to
keep a low profile, ya know?  But it's been close a
couple of times.  I _really_ don't want attention drawn
to myself.  Which brings me to my next problem.

I can't escape.  Really.  Man, I'm trapped here.  They
watch these kids 24/7.  They did a strip search and
went through my luggage both at the base and when I got
here.  I haven't got anything to get myself out of here
with and no idea what I could do or where I could go if
I did.  Prison, only with homework.  Could life
possibly get any more frustrating?
 
Don't answer that.

 
One the bright side, I've got an expense account here
at the school that would make Quatre sit up and take
notice, and the staff here apparently has a real thing
for bribes.  Well, as long as you're not asking them to
smuggle anything in more exciting than a girly mag or a
box of chocolate.

If this letter makes it to you, it'll be worth what
they're charging.  Hell, it's not my money anyway!  I'm
sending copies to four of the drops that I know you
use, that way you should get at least one.

Be careful, Wu.  You're also on the list of
expendables.  I guess you have some dark secret past,
'cause they were muttering about 'emotionally unstable
elements' and 'questionable family attachments'.  Take
my advice.  Pack up Shenlong and get the hell out of
Dodge.  If they can't catch you, they can't wad you up
and throw you away.

That's really what they've done to me.  It's only a
matter of time before Zechs finds out about me, and you
know what that'll mean.  Be careful, man.  I can't
stress that enough.  

Oh, and if the little shit shows up down there, make
sure he's on the ground before you kill him.  Don't
want him bleeding on _my_ Deathscythe.

*********************************
  
Duo:  I hate you.
Truth:  Hey!
Wufei:  I hate you too.
Heero:  Just what is going on around here?
Quatre *pulling out a sheaf of paper*:  Well,
according to these....
Truth *snatching the papers*:  No reading ahead!