Gundam Wing
Wizard Of OZ
By Red Rose

EPISODE 1
Chapter III
UNION
 
Wufei
 
For two days, Quatra kept Heero, Sally and myself cooped up in a secret annex in his cellar while waiting to arrange transport to South America and, eventually, off Earth. 
The room was uncomfortably small and damp and never meant to hide three individuals for a long period of time. Still, we managed to coexist without destroying each other. Both Heero and I kept to our investigations, each of us using the computer and radio in the corner.
If one thing, we'd have a solid plan for rescuing Duo and leaving the planet.
Sally oversaw our investigations to the best she was capable, but even she realized both Heero and I were secretive. She'd only get so much from us when we were finished. She knew better than to intrude, letting us go about our tasks without any complaints.
A good woman was one who knew when not to bother the men when they worked, I thought, pleased. Perhaps Sally understood this.
She rarely kept out of my business. In fact, more often, she involved herself more than I liked. It was a bothersome characteristic that always strained our relationship.
I looked back down, gaze focusing on my watch. Quatra was due to return at any moment, but if my assumptions about the boy were right, he'd be late. It was an annoying trait about the boy, but I tolerated it, aware he had other more useful aspects.
A chill pricked the hair on the nape of my neck.
Strange.
I looked up from my computer keyboard and stared at the wall for a moment. It seemed to ripple like a small droplet of water vanishing into the sea.
The sensation ebbed away as quickly as it came, leaving a disconcerting twisting in my stomach.
"You felt it?" Heero asked, leaning over my shoulder. His sharp gray blue eyes glared at me, unyielding.
"Yes." I replied disinterestedly. I often had similar feelings before in the past. Yet only now, did I understand they were my Newtype abilities responding to a stimulus that I could not see. Still, I filed it away, my subconscious keeping an eye on the feeling in case whatever I sensed came to my awareness, sooner rather than later. "You're supposed to be on your medication. I presume you stopped taking it now?"
"As of twelve hours ago, yes." Heero said. "If we're to find Duo, it will go a lot faster if the link between us is reopened."
"Reasonable." I said, tapping the return key, watching the cursor drop down the screen. Heero did appear paler than usual, so I only presumed he was beginning to experience withdrawal symptoms.
Behind us, Sally's gaze diverted between Heero and myself. "Is there something wrong? What are you guys picking up?"
I fingered the keyboard before me, refusing to look her in the eye. Instead, I watched her reflection on the monitor. She was on a cot at the end of the small box shaped room. She lay on a dusty, dark green blanket, the book in her hand illuminated by a small desk lamp on a end table beside her bed. "To coin a cliche, both Heero and I 'have a bad feeling' about something that neither of us can discern."
"Hmph." Thoughtful, the women folded her arms. "Interesting."
Yes. Far too interesting to be caged in the cellar of a wealthy diplomat. I became even more impatient for the return of the blond pilot. There wasn't the time for his social graces and politics.
Heero studied the map of South America displayed on the monitor. He rubbed his chin and leaned his palms on the desk before me. "Are you sure you can trust your contacts?"
I nodded confidently. "They may be criminals, but they are competent, and when paid well, give worth while information."
The map before us was a digitally enhanced satellite photo of South America and of a secret military installation. Most of the base was underground while the jungle surface mimicked a government airport. I had heard rumors of the place months ago. It took a great deal of money to find the proper resources to locate the position of the base.
My instincts said it posed a threat to peace and I wasn't surprised at all when Heero claimed Alexie was connected to the South American Government. He just couldn't prove it to the bureaucrats without evidence.
I rubbed my chin, studying the dots on the screen. I could easily make out the shapes of planes and mobile suits. The South American Government was building its military. "Interesting how Duo's mission is just a few miles upstream of the installation."
"What do you mean, Wu?" Sally asked. I studied her shapely hips. She stretched her full six foot body out and I couldn't help but admire the firmness of her thigh muscles. Indeed, she was a strong woman, but nothing compared to my Nataku.
But then again, no one could ever compare to her bravery and beauty.
"Isn't it obvious?" I said coolly. "Duo's penance in Brazil was arranged by someone other than his friend, Father Donaldson."
"Doctor G?" Heero asked, gaze narrowing. "But for what reason?"
Sally Po slipped off her perch and joined us around the computer. She studied the map, no doubt her hardened military mind planning out the best approach for an assault. "I'd suspect, if this place is mostly underground, they are doing some illegal weapons production. If you're right Wu, then the mad five want Duo to locate and document any info he can get before he's caught."
"Hmph." Heero folded his arms and leaned against the brick wall, flakes of red dust rained down onto the dingy gray carpet. "Knowing Duo, he has no idea what's going on and is checking the place out because it might endanger his position. Got to hand it to G and J. They really know our personalities enough to pull our strings." 
Heero was, of course, speaking for himself. I rarely allowed myself to play in their games. I folded my arms, face serious. G and J recently spent a great deal of time with both Duo and Heero. The idea, then and now, made me particularly uneasy. I didn't trust any of the five scientists and saw them as honorless bastards without a stitch of sanity.
Still, they were brilliant and useful.
"Or, they could have programmed him when he was in the institution." I added. "What's important is, does it change our plan to retrieve Duo?"
"Hell no. It makes it even more important we haul his sorry ass out of there." Heero snapped. He straightened himself and placed his hands on his hips. A flicker of concern crossed his brow and the boy sighed. "Knowing him, he's probably stumbled on Alexie's base of power and right into his hands."
"Like you and Trowa?" I nudged another button and switched the image on the screen to a second satellite view. This one was of a small poor village on the Amazon River.
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a flash from Heero's hand. He pulled a gun from the waist of his pants and cocked it.
I lifted a brow, knowing my remark was ignored.
"Someone's coming."
Without another word, Sally removed a sub-machine gun from under her bed and checked the clips.
I strained to listen, but heard nothing save the creaking of an old house. However, time and experience with the Japanese pilot taught me the boy had senses beyond any human I knew. I shifted my gaze to the clock on the desk. It was 7:15 PM. "Quatra was due back fifteen minutes ago. It's safe to assume it is him."
Sally nodded, relaxing her stance some, but she still held her weapon firmly in her grasp. "Rasid and the staff are still moving about as well."
The dark haired boy shook his head, sharp eyes darkening. "No. The foot falls are heavier and the gait is different from anyone else in this building. I'd say a man over six foot five and roughly four hundred plus pounds." He sniffed at the air, nose wrinkling. "Quatra is there too."
"Then what do we do?" Sally asked.
Heero's lithe form leaped and grasped the eaves above. Effortlessly, he swung his legs up and scuttled into the shadows. I scarcely saw him as he seemingly became stone still, blending into his surroundings.
Not for the last time, I asked myself if he was human, then switched off the monitor.
If Quatra was indeed forced to bring the authorities here, we'd have to fight our way out.
I joined Sally and slipped my saber from my scabbard, then positioned myself beside the door.
As always, when dealing with Heero Yuy and his sort, nothing went as planned.
I cursed and readied myself for a fight.
*************
Heero
 
The steps slowed and stopped at the door. Over head, I clearly heard the shuffle of servants going about their daily tasks, unhindered. A second of analysis told me two things. One, Quatra was in control of the situation and the person with him was a ally.
Or, he was a prisoner and the entire estate was under watch and forced to go about their business so not to disturb the hidden guests.
But if that were the case, I'd hear a little more agitation in the movements above.
Interesting. For a moment I, reflected on how fortunate I was to have enhanced senses. Alexie's procedure changed me a great deal, but it was easily used as an advantage. I sniffed the air once more, trying to get an impression of the two men outside the door.
Quatra's scent was a little more potent than usual.
He was bothered by something and it made him unusually nervous.
I lifted my weapon, aiming at the door.
Though the man at his side smelled concerned at best, still, his musk was just a hair different from any I'd encountered. He breathed slow and evenly, reinforcing the impression I had from his footsteps. He was huge, yet with that breathing, after all that walking, he couldn't be as fat as that size would indicate.
I let my mind focus on the faint backdrop of mental voices growing in the distance. When I weaned off the medication, as an artificial Newtype, I read almost any undefended mind now. I recognized Rasid and the servants, but no one outside of our allies. No one? Then just who was it I was hearing and smelling with Quatra?
The door opened and the first thing I heard was Quatra's contralto. "It's all right. I've brought..."
I aimed the gun precisely at the bridge of the large man's nose as he began to enter the room, the rest of Quatra's words fading into my concentration. If I was going to take him out, I had to do it now. Quatra obviously thought he was a friend, but Quatra could sometimes be fooled. Yet, I had to concede it was not often, so I held my fire for the time being.
At the same instant I made the decision, my chance passed. Since I had done nothing to alert the man to my location, he must have evaluated Wu's and Sally's stances and figured out, in a split second, that there was a third person present. Scarcely pausing in his stride, he glanced up directly at where I was. Had I decided to shoot him the moment he appeared, it would have been just barely in time.
The huge man, who I now realized I'd seen once before, raised an eyebrow and grinned. Only the faintest twitch of muscle showed that his first impulse on realizing there was a third man present was to draw a weapon. "Ah, Mr. Heero Yuy. Come on down, kid. If I wanted to hurt any of you, I'd have come better prepared. And put away the cannon. Shootin' a man who's here to help you would be damned rude." He calmly extracted a cigar from a belt pouch and put it between his lips.
Wordless, I holstered the gun in the back of my jeans and slowly slipped down from the eaves, still studying the newcomer. He stood well over two meters tall, but looked squat. I was wrong about his weight; it was nearer to five hundred pounds and not an ounce of it was fat. Yet... yet none of it looked like the muscle of bodybuilders or weight lifters, but rather like the ordinary hard muscle of a man in military training. And the way he moved was light on his feet, not merely like a man trained in combat, but as smoothly as if he was the same size as I was. Now, I knew where I had seen him before. He was the Outer Colonies ambassador. From what I recalled, he was from a heavy gravity world. VERY heavy gravity. And by the speed he showed in reaction, he was as fast as I was; possibly a hair faster. Combined with the immense strength that muscle mass gave him and his obvious training, he would be virtually impossible to beat in hand-to-hand.
Even for me.
"Ambassador Gunn." I said evenly. I had tried some time ago to hack his databases, but disappointedly discovered his ships computer systems ran on a different set of signals. I had to settle for what files the ESUN had on him and his ship. Other than that, the man before me was unknown. "The last time I saw you, you shot my closest friend."
The ambassador lifted a curious brow, then grinned again. "Didn't have much choice now, did I ? If I hadn't shot, he'd have finished you off and then gotten to Miz Relena. A man can't just stand around while his hostess is bein' beheaded, can he?"
The event was permanently etched on my mind. It was because of me, Duo was captured by Alexie and conditioned to kill Relena. Out of all the soldiers and security guards attempting to shoot at Duo as he attacked me and Relena, only Gunn's seemed to get though the fiery field of green energy surrounding his body. At the time, I decided it was luck combined with master skill.
Any man, myself included, could successfully target a Newtype and strike him through his plasma aura.
An aura only I seemed to see at the time.
But now, studying Gunn, I realized it was more than that. Gunn's mind wasn't merely closed, it was as though he simply wasn't THERE; not even as a physical object, like a table or chair. He was like empty air... or, now that I reached out, even worse. My probes vanished into a void. He seemed utterly unaware of my attempts. Was this some kind of device he carried; some advance in psychic technology that the Outer Colonies had developed? Or was this a natural ability? But if it was natural, what did it make him? Even the smallest living creatures, from ants to dogs, had psychic auras. If it weren't for the undeniable smell of a living man, I would have thought him a robot.
Beside me, Wu looked just as perplexed and uneasy. He had mentioned briefly how he was just beginning to tap his inner self and understand his extra senses. Unlike me, Wufei was constantly open and able to read others.
Yet Ambassador Gunn troubled him as well.
Very interesting.
"So what does Relena think he can do for us?" Wufei asked, annoyed with the disruption. 
"Get you off the planet for one." Quatra said cheerfully. "And help us find Duo."
"We've already found him." I informed, folding my arms. It was obvious we didn't need any outside help, but as usual, Relena insisted on becoming involved, even if it was indirectly. "We just have to retrieve him before the South American police catch up with him."
Worry crossed Quatra's brow and he shifted his stance. From his posture, I detected he doubted our abilities. The kid was nervous; a kind of desperation I lacked and didn't understand. "That's right. They want to bring him to trial."
"But why go to such an effort to set him up?" Sally relaxed and seated herself on the cot.
"War." Gunn said flatly. "I dunno all the background yet, but the motive's clear. Someone's playin' both sides against the middle. By gettin' you people in trouble, it both ticks off the colonies and makes the Pure Earth position stronger. Upshot is, you get a war."
I blinked, but had to nod. Gunn didn't even know what we did, but it was obvious his experience in military strategy gave him the advantage in guessing what this set of events meant.
"Yes. Both Trowa and I already came to that conclusion about Pure Earth. But what is Alexie's motives for it?" I rubbed my chin, mind sorting the last few days. Angry, pale, ice blue eyes were etched on my mind as he looked down at me on the roof. His posture, his features and his general nature were pleased. Was it evidence for Gunn's deduction? "The bastard is definitely setting us up."
Gunn held up a hand. "Excuse me? You mind running that by me again? I was under the impression that Alexie was dead, or so everyone's told me." Gunn's tone on the last sentence indicated that he too, had doubts about Alexie's death.
Months ago, Romefeller claimed they located the man responsible for messing with Duo and myself and promptly dispatched him with a lethal injection. Both Duo and I ID'ed his picture, but neither one of us believed it was him despite Dorothy's insistence he was who he appeared to be.
The woman liked conflict too much to be trusted and Alexie was just up her alley. They were a match made in Hell (as Duo often commented). I lowered my head and closed my eyes, clearing my mind of any distraction. If Gunn wanted a detailed explanation, I'd give him one, starting from the beginning.
"Trowa and I traced the Numbers Project to a lab owned by Romefeller. All research had been transferred to two subsidiaries; one in Maine, the other in the ESRF building. Apparently, years before, Romefeller had dedicated research to understanding Newtypes in order to eventually bring it into the open on their own terms. That is, before Duo and I blew the lid off of the project."
"I was afraid of that." Wufei said dryly. "And of course, being compulsive, you walked right into it. I also highly doubt you killed him the other night."
"Hm? Well then, who was stupid enough to have Sally caught on film as well? I'm sure he calculated you too, Wu. After all, you and Sally represent the Preventers and did a fine job discrediting them."
The Chinese boy abruptly looked away, annoyed but silent. He knew I was right. We were all fools and easily led.
Alexie designed us after all.
"Interesting, and they are still denying any connection to the Numbers Project." Said the Ambassador. "So let me guess. You guys went to find the bastard and whatever documents Romefeller had on the project so you could finger them, but you were caught."
"They were sloppy." Wu grunted predictably, but more subdued. "I could have told them what would have happened, but they insisted I stay out of the investigation."
"It would have worked. Neither Trowa or I expected other Newtypes, especially that one." 
"I wouldn't have over looked it." Wu folded his arms, superiority flickering in his midnight gaze. "The entire project was based on creating Newtypes and it was foolish of you to ignore that fact."
I thought of retorting back, but realized Wu was right. He wouldn't have made the same error. He often sat back and thought of a battle plan for hours, examining it at all angles of execution. Battle to him was chess. He prided himself as a master and approached things as such. For Wu, there was no room for error. Besides, he preferred to leave it to others, like me, to blunder before he himself acted.
I noticed that Mr. Gunn was looking thoughtful after our last exchange, as though it had given him an idea. What that idea was, of course, I couldn't tell, and he seemed reluctant to speak out, at least right now. I shrugged mentally and glanced back at Wu, who was still sneering at me for my lack of elegance in my tactics. To me, a mission was a mission, not art, so I did what I could.
In truth, his only mistake in rescuing me was bringing Sally, but I was sure she knew the risks and thought perhaps we had the info to nail Romefeller.
Again, the entire situation was due to my miscalculations and shortsightedness. Now that I promised myself to survive my missions, I lost my edge. When I believed I was expendable, I was more effective.
Powerful Newtypes were the last thing I figured into my plan. Low powered ones like myself were an entirely different matter. They were more believable. "I don't have time to discuss my screw ups." I said sourly. "You can stroke your ego when we don't have lives to save."
"Hmm, I think he's picking on you, Wu." Sally taunted. She poked the Chinese boy in the shoulder playfully with a fist, then became serious. She turned her fiery gaze to Gunn." Ambassador, I understand you have very advanced monitoring equipment on board your ship. From what I hear, it's better than our satellites and undetectable."
"Well, Ma'am, 'undetectable' is a pretty big word, but I'd say that we can see things you people can't, and probably do it without anyone else knowin' about it." Gunn said. "The Shadowblade and her resources are at your disposal. No problem getting people off planet. All you need to do is get to my drop ship, parked over near the embassy, without anyone seein' you. People like you, I'm sure that won't be a problem." He rubbed his chin. "Now, the South American problem, that's a different thing. Wouldn't do for me to just go droppin' in there, given how they feel about me right now. I wouldn't be surprised if they greeted me with missiles and AA fire. But if you want a trained combat expert with diplomatic immunity, why, I'd be willin' to volunteer for the job. Just get me in there and I'll escort the kid out."
"All right." Apparently, Sally was taking over the operation and I wasn't about to argue. She was better with planning and negotiations on a large scale than either Wu or me. The flax haired women turned to Gunn. "Actually, I'd prefer you to come with us. You, Wu and I can return to your ship. There, if Ambassador Gunn is willing, we can continue to monitor the base we've discovered. As a Preventer, I still have the authority to investigate anything that may disrupt peace and it is expected for all the ambassadors to assist in the investigation." 
"Be happy to help." Gunn smiled. "Gives us a good excuse. I've been wanting to check the New South American Government out for some time."
"Good." I said dryly. I took orders better than I gave them. Now that Sally took over, I could concentrate on Duo. "Quatra and I will go to South America and smuggle Duo and his family out."
"Agreed." Quatra nodded. "I can always make it a diplomatic trip to draw attention away from you,. Heero, and I can easily arrange a boat."
"Let's just hope this runs smoothly." Wu remarked sharply. "Our luck has been rather bad recently."
"It will." I said calmly. "Quatra will be our distraction. He's an ambassador. They can't attack him unless they want to risk a premature war. So while they are busy with him, it will give me enough headway to get to Duo." I thinly smiled, proud of my plot. "Now, it will work, especially if we all work together. If you see any flaws in my plan, you'll tell me, right?"
The Chinese boy's face darkened as his brows narrowed. "If that's what you want." He said coldly. "I will make the proper preparations."
Now, all we needed was to get started. I glanced at my hands, studying my fingers carefully. Up until a little while ago, all I had felt from withdrawal was a little weakness. Now I was obviously shaking.
I didn't have time for this.
Damn.
I heaved a breath, recognizing if we didn't move fast, I wouldn't be much use at all. But, to take another dose of Professor J's drug would start me all over again. Perhaps I'd just sweat it out and deal with the paranoia, pain and insanity.
It was, after all, nothing I wasn't used to.
***************
Duo
 
"Oh God, Duo... Hang on." Hilde's words whispered in the nothingness gripping my aching fever ridden body. "Oh God.... hear me..."
The voices rumbled like thunder around me, endlessly forcing me to listen to their banter and hear nothing else but the tiniest whisper of sanity.
In the distance, the howl of wind and the thrashing of rain against the windowsill touched my senses, then vanished with the flood of pain drowning my brain.
I was cold. I was hot. My body throbbed as did my head. My leg seared with razor sharp pain every time I moved.
Heero was right.
Dying hurt. But then again, I died once before not long ago.
I always thought it would be one big flash of anguish, then peace. Not drawn out for eternity. All I wanted was silence.
God, end it now.
I personally liked the way I died last time. It was gruesome, but quick. Just the way I imagined.
Painfully, I winced and forced my eyes open. The blurry color filled room spun uncontrollably before me. I was too weak to move, or see Hilde, but I insisted.
If I had to die, I wanted her to be the last thing I saw.
"Hilde?" My voice barely broke from a whisper.
Fingers tightened around my hand. "Duo... You're awake..."
Her words blended and unfocused with the onslaught of thoughts cascading into my mind. I struggled vainly to listen for her voice, my face wet from tears. "Hilde..."
The T-shirt I wore was soaking wet and my hair matted to my face. My fever worn body was wrapped in sheets and shook with occasional spasms. I must have looked pathetic. Why couldn't I die looking cool?
Life was unfair.
"I love you..." I mustered, knowing I'd never hear her response. "I'm sorry..." 
Silence.
The feeling of her fingers on my hand vanished.
Blackness clouded me. I was gratefully passing out, the fever too much for my poor psychically taxed mind. Without adieu, I surrendered and allowed the peace of nothingness to take over.
For a long luxurious moment, I drifted between life and death.
"Hello, Angel..."
An alluring whisper called from the peace. That voice. I opened my eyes.
The pain of existence bombarded me once more. But, this time, it was very different, yet, familiar. My body hung eagle, shackled to a cell wall.
Shackled? I questioned my state, curiously studying the bonds holding me. They were solid black with delicate vines and leaves etched in their surface. The artistry was fine and done with a skilled and caring hand, unlike any I had ever seen. Further study told me the bonds were crystal rather than metal.
Stunned, I stared blankly at them, knowing by the way the black stone sparkled, it bore a familiarity I could not place.
Why would someone chain me to a wall with shackles worth far more than the prison and all its staff?
I turned away from the bonds and examined my quarters. The room was a simple gray walled cell without furniture. I could faintly see my own outline reflected in the walls.
I could even make out the ragged uneven ends of my freshly cut hair. The shaggy unruly locks just rimmed above my shoulders and looked out of place with my bruised worn features.
I heaved in a breath, my memory of the last couple hours rushing back to me. The last thing I recalled was my capture after sloppily breaking into the Romefeller facility in Bar Harbor. The bastard who captured me, humiliated me by giving me the shave of my life. Yeah, that was right. The muther-fucking ass wipe cut my hair and had the nerve to chastise me.
I dimly recalled talking with Heero, then falling asleep. My sleep was uneasy and plagued with night terrors; worse than my usual sort.
I twitched, wondering if this was just another bad dream. However, I guessed it was unlikely because this one didn't follow the same blood and death theme.
My hair. I bowed my head, feeling the soft caress of the ends against my cheeks. Damn, there went years of my life in one swing of a scythe. Now I had nothing to remind me of Sister Helen's touch.
I inhaled, feeling a faint pain in my gut. My injury, though fading with time, still reminded me of how stupid I was to engage in a mission without the proper assistance.
Damn it. Why didn't I let Trowa help me when I had the chance. I must have been on idiot pills.
The door at the end of the room opened. A man entered.
I caught a glint of those piercing blue eyes and knew instantly who he was. Alexie, my nemesis.
"Who the fuck do you think you are?" I asked, rattling the cuffs holding me fast to the wall.
The smug ass smiled pearly whites. It aggravated me even more. I despised his smugness and I'd give my right testicle just to pound it off his rotten little face.
He scanned me, carefully, and I caught a glimpse of fascination in his eyes. "Your salvation, Angel."
Salvation, my ass. I narrowed my brow. He looked at me as if I was an object. A chill washed down my spine as I carefully studied his muscles and features. His fascination in me was more than a scientist looking over his pet project. He coveted me.
My face flushed with heat and I opened my mouth, exploding with pure unadulterated hatred. "You slimly dick licking scum bag! What do you think I am? A Goddamned chick? I'm a guy! Are you fucking blind?!"
I didn't understand why at the time I was so repulsed, but it gnawed at my gut sickeningly and made my head spin irrationally. Whoever Alexie Courthers really was, he mustn't ever touch me, and if he did, I'd murder him without remorse.
"I am not blind." He said coldly. His hand dropped to my crotch and slipped over the fabric of my pants.
My chest began to thud uncontrollably and I discovered my self tensing. The scum bucket held my balls...
I went taught, sheer terror freezing me to the wall. Suddenly, I couldn't move. Even though I promised myself I'd kill the fucker, I couldn't conceive of moving.
His hawk like face hardened and the prick squeezed.
"Oh you're definitely not a women, young Angel."
The sensation of my balls becoming an orange in a press assaulted my brain with missiles of anguish. I screamed, suddenly free of my paralysis, and slammed against my restraints. The sheer force sliced my wrists and sent a trickle of blood down my arm. It dawned on me, if I struggled any more, the crystal holding me was sharp enough to cut completely though my flesh and I'd bleed to death. Helpless, I dropped my chin and tried to double over.
The asshole didn't stop.
After moments, spots intruded my consciousness. It was an effort to keep from passing out.
The face before me became amused. Then, when he appeared to have enough of my screeching, he removed his fingers and touched under my tear streaked chin. "There, there Angel. I guess I have proven my point, haven't I."
I couldn't respond, not until the pain subsided, and by then I was fuming. Normally, I tried to be as rational as possible. I avoided fighting if I could and tried to give those around me a chance to stop what they were doing before I was pushed too far.
I didn't care about him. All I felt was anger and the desire to draw his blood.
Sadly, being chained to the wall was an inconvenience to my present needs. All I could do was mouth off and I prided myself on being rather good at it. "Taking my hair doesn't make you happy, you have to castrate me too, eh?"
Softly, he chuckled and those fierce blue eyes captured my own. "Castrate? No, no, my son. Why would the devil mutilate the jewels of his favorite little demon, especially when he finds them so useful to his ultimate goal."
What? Was his goal to engineer choir boys?
As if he could read my mind, Alexie slipped his hand to my hair and stroked it affectionately. "My pet..."
A cold dagger stabbed into my spine and shivers goose pimpled my flesh. Though a bit slow at times (because I chose to play the innocent), I was a bright guy and realized the man's words had many meanings and not just the obvious sexual connotations; connotations I wanted to ignore for now.
Yes, he did see me as a pet. In fact, not only did he see me as a pet, but a pedigree pet.
He wanted me to breed.
The Numbers Project was more than creating the prefect soldiers.
We were a new race of beings to serve his beckon call.
"Boy, so I guess me becoming a priest isn't exactly what you wanted me to do, is it?" I said childishly.
"I had no concerns there, Death Angel. You can never really be a man of the cloth. I designed you so your heart and soul could never condone it."
Was that why I kept failing Father Maxwell's expectations? I swallowed, unable to ignore the fear lumping in my throat. This bastard was creepy. A part of me really believed he was Satan.
I stared deeper into his eyes, falling into the shafts of silver cutting though the milky blue iris. They were vast, and somehow, I saw the stars within them.
I felt the color rush out of my face.
He was beautiful to me, and alluring.
Those eyes... They entered my mind leaving a trail of whispers in their wake. What terrified me the most was, I welcomed them.
"Angel, Angel, Death Angel, Angel..."
No way, no how! I wasn't going to let some sicko hypnotist use his charlatan tricks to convince me I was the right hand of Lucifer. With all my power, I tore my gaze from his. Strangely, the very effort stole all my energy. With little reserves left to strengthen my will, I could no longer hold up my own head. I dropped my chin to my chest and my vision blurred.
The voices. They called me and reached out for my soul, making me feel as if I belonged with them.
He had to be a demon.
` Wide eyed, I looked at the floor and his perfectly polished shoes. His hand slid from my hair and down my neck, sending trails of pleasure over my skin.
I felt tainted by his very touch. "The Devil..." I whispered. "God help me...The Devil..."
Prayers escaped me. Only the gentle touch of his fingers remained. I felt them slowly sliding back down while the other hand lifted my head. "No, my little Angel. You can't escape that way. Hell awaits you. It's time to be reborn. You sold your soul to me years ago, when you survived the massacre. Don't you remember?"
Remember?
His eyes swallowed my attention once more.
The voices returned.
"Don't fight rapture child. Only fools fight those who can give them the strength to smite their enemies."
We did meet once before.
The memory rushed back as an untamed river of sorrow and hate. I was a child again, staring blankly at the corpse of a broken woman in a nun's habit. Tears streamed an ocean of remorse down my burned and bruised face. Trembling, I looked from her agonized face and gazed to the sky.
"Damn you! Damn you! I hate you! There is no merciful god! Only death, only destruction, only evil!" Whimpering I sank to the blood stained ground, bruised fingers touching the rubble of brick and cement scattered about. Ruins, all ruins. The once great church that gave me salvation was crushed by the mighty hand of the Federation in less than a few moments. "Why were they so weak?" I asked no one. "Why did God abandon them?"
"God is the one who is weak boy. He always has been."
Startled, I looked up to empty air. Only the broken and severed limbs of 250 souls lay scattered about blackened walls and rubble.
"Who are you?" My quaking lips asked to nothing. "Where are you?"
Cold fingers caressed my body, their breeze a welcoming touch to my longing heart. Motionless, I let the tingles wash over me, cleansing my being with their malice. "Death, death, little Angel. Your master..."
The memory dissolved, leaving the blue eyed man and myself facing each other once more. "Yes, you see now, don't you?"
Wordless, I nodded, realizing how as a boy, I gave myself to him in order to insure my vengeance.
I was his.
"Ashes to ashes." Tumbled from my lips.
Moments later, our minds merged and I surrendered.
*********
I was drifting in peace again, thoughts only momentarily flickering to the memory of my brainwashing session with Alexie. He tricked me then by convincing me I was damned.
Just like when I was a twelve year old kid, the blue eyed man returned.
But this time, he raped my mind.
I supposed he was plotting it way back then, when he watched my struggles under the bloated stinking body of Mr. Sullivan.
I understood now.
I refused to go after Alexie with Heero because a part of me knew he still had a very powerful hold on me.
And it was more than traditional brainwashing.
Well, anyhow, I was on the verge of croaking now, so there wasn't very much I could do about it.
Numbness interrupted my thoughts. My mind dimmed. I was frightened at first, but when I realized I couldn't help it, I gave into the nothing taking me. The memories shaping me vanished, as did my own sense of being.
In the split second before death, my world twisted once more.
Black tendrils ripped out of the darkness and wound about my form and wrenched me away from the comforting nothing. Frantic I struggled, desperate to return to the peace death offered.
Why was this happening now? My last experience was peaceful and I was sure I was going up and not down this time.
Surely, it couldn't be my bargain with Alexie when I was a mere child. It didn't effect my death last time.
Why was I being tormented now?
Was this another dream?
With an effort, my consciousness pried at the bonds sinking into my spiritual flesh. Mercilessly, they slithered all over me and tightened their grip until I was completely immobile.
"Duo..." A living voice cried out from far away. "Dear God, let him go. If he has to die, take him now. No more pain, please no more pain..."
"Angel, Angel, Angel, Angel..." Voices chanted over and over, attempting to wash away the touch and pleas of the living. The tentacles swarmed over me, their tips slipping erotically over my face.
My eyes widened.
Tentative tendrils glided over my lips and sank deep into my mouth.
I tried to scream, feeling them invade my body, their foul taste washing down my throat.
The blackness opened up to a field of stars and the vastness of a nebulous space. Brilliant radiant clouds blossomed in the vacuum around me. The cold darkness of the universe touched my body.
Still, somehow, despite the howling of cosmic winds, I heard them. The voices of my loved ones continued to ring like church bells in the distance.
"Someone's here." Another voice broke from the chorus and spoke in a child's pitch. "Hilde, he's with the USAG."
A click of a hammer and release of a gun's safety latch echoed off the cliffs around me. "Send him in. I'll deal with him..."
Silence.
The tendrils dragged me into a silken network of living web, stretched across the star field. My body became snagged as the bonds holding me became taut and blended into the net around me.
Yet, my mind fought it.
I began to see beyond the coils of death.
A circle of life appeared before me. It was dim, but I could see the other world.
My body was prone and motionless. Hilde stood beside me, a gun aimed at someone standing in the door.
A young cherub's face rimmed with a head of red curls looked pleadingly at my beloved and the weapon.
"You're too late, buddy. He's dying. No thanks to your people." Hilde said, sobs heaving in her voice. "Leave us alone before I blow your head off."
Spoken just like her old ball and chain. I smiled inwardly, remembering how much I loved watching her. The woman could kick serious ass when she wanted.
"Please, put the gun away. I'm not here to hurt either of you." The cherub said. His face and large green eyes begged helplessly.
I knew him. He was the Newtype.
But what in the Hell could he do?
"Let them go, Angel." An echo halloed in black mist ebbed at my will. "You are one of us. Surrender and become a part of the web..."
Why give up the opportunity of watching my number one babe act butch to the little shit who brought me here in the first place. I focused and watched.
"Bull! It's because of your people he's here." Hilde circled closer to the kid, but kept an arm's length from him. "Leave!"
"I didn't want him hurt." The boy said guiltily. "He's a Newtype, like me. I'm sorry it happened this way, but my guards, they were protecting me. If you let me, I can help him."
He really did sound regretful and I noticed Hilde's gun falter some. She looked back to my body, then to the kid. Desperation rimmed her tear filled eyes. I saw her intentions very clearly. She'd sell her soul to save me.
Our time together was too short for her. "You can help him?"
"Yes. I can heal."
Silence followed.
A moment later, Hilde waved the gun toward me, then to the kid. "Ok, but if you try anything funny, I'll happily shower the wall with your brains."
Uneasily, the boy nodded, then made his way to my body.
His fingers just touched my forehead.
Pain and blinding light rushed into my frigid world.
The voices holding me howled and the web fragmented.
Seconds later, I was blown back to the numb cradle between limbo and consciousness.
************
An aurora of rainbow colors washed over me in a delicate stream of light.
I drifted in space, exhausted and pained body on the edge of life. Peace filled my soul and eased my troubled heart. I let myself relax into the wavering rivets of energy and rode its essence into a swirling whirlpool of crescent color.
A touch, gentle and warm, caressed my naked spirit and aroused it.
I searched for it, the healing hand stroking my broken body, yet only found the stars and the spiraling of embryonic galaxies.
"Duo... That is your name?" A healing voice spoke with words, but not words. "I've never touched a human soul..."
The sea around me wavered and I found my self rocked by a bombardment of images.
Myself as a small child, cradling the body of a fever worn boy in my arms. My tear and dirt streaked face lifted to face the peeling battered walls of the ruins of a childhood hideout.
"Solo..." I whispered. It was one of my earliest memories.
"You're so dark and lonely inside." The voice continued. "Why? Why are you so closed."
I couldn't help it. Each question brought explosions of memories, as if my entire pitiful life was rushing before me.
Solo's death, Father Maxwell, the church, the massacre, my life on the street as a drug runner and thief, the Sweepers and Doctor G. Everything blasted by in a frenzy of emotional reruns.
Helpless I lay and watched, strangely detached as each event vanished over the horizon. The war flashed by in seconds flat, as well as Mission Blind Target and White Fang's final breath.
My battle with drugs seemed silly from the outside and my attempts at being a priest was very noble of me...
Then there was Alexie.
A gasp washed over my mind and the images froze on his face.
Confusion filled me.
I wasn't alone.
Dazed, I directed my mind on the influx of confusion and wonder.
It was the boy. He stood over me, hands stretched out to my face.
"Mr..." Trembled from his lips. "Mr. Shun Fe... Those are his eyes."
"Shun Fe?" With a thought, I faced him. A flicker of anger and suspicion rose in my thoughts and the kid almost backed away from me.
That is, if one could back away, floating in a void of light and sound.
A very familiar void that gnawed on my memory.
"Who are you?" I asked, fists tightening. "What are you doing to me. And what do you know about Alexie?"
Startled and hurt, the boy looked at me with big eyes and a concerned brow. "My name is Sheshie. I'm a Newtype like you. I'm healing you, if you let me and I know nothing about your Alexie. Mr. Shun Fe is my caretaker. He is very good to me. They can not be the same person." He lifted his hands to me, young face filled with warmth. "Please, don't fight me. I won't hurt you."
The memories, the pleasant feelings, it suddenly made me feel incredibly uneasy. Whoever this kid was, he tiptoed though my brain, and my mind, untrained as it was, obliged his sentimental journey.
From the look and feel of his spirit, he meant no harm.
But it was impossible for me to trust anyone who was touched by those blue eyes.
I turned away, hair flaring out like a sea of honey brown kelp. I pointed an accusing finger at him in realization. "You're that USAG kid who got me shot!!! What the hell are you doing in my brain? Spying?!" I shook my head and found myself chuckling morbidly. "That makes sense doesn't it. Well, you cleaned the old bell tower, didn't you?"
Shocked, the boy shook his head, tears filling his eyes. "No... Mr. Maxwell, I could never hurt you... Never. You're the first..."
"Bull!" 
"Please." The boy begged. "I didn't mean to get you shot. I'm very sorry."
Sorry? Sorry? Yeah, well, he told Hilde that one too. "That's all fine and dandy kiddo, but I stayed alive because I'm a paranoid SOB, so don't be offended if I don't swallow that whopper in one bite."
"But I'm telling you the truth." The kid continued. "I didn't mean to look at your mind. You sent it to me."
Sent it?
What in the hell did he mean by sent it? I was no telepath and the only person I sent things arbitrarily to was Heero, and that was because we shared an gestalt...
Gestalt.
Christ no, please no...
I felt an odd sensation wash over me.
Comforting tendrils of light wavered about the boy and I. Their delicate tips touched each other, conjoining into one stream.
A flood of excitement and arousal assailed me.
My brain exploded with desire and the need to become one with something other than myself.
Terrified and sickened, I struggled. It was bad enough I gestalted with Heero (at least I was familiar with him and his sociopathic tendencies - they were sort of comforting in a way). I had no intention of unioning with some prissy South American science project.
With a masterful effort, I wrenched myself away.
And awoke with a start in my bed.
Shock waves of anguish stabbed at me. For a second, I longingly stared at the pale features of Hilde.
Then I noticed the kid blinking at me.
I had an erection.
Blackness followed.
************
I sat up in bed, propped by several pillows. Beside me, Hilde swished a spoon in plain fish broth. Her moist eyes were wide with relief and she smiled at me often, her thoughts commending herself on making the right decision on trusting the little USAG kid.
The kid. He stood by the window, green eyes focused on the jungle swaying in the howling gale outside. Rain hammered against the windowpane and dribbled from the ceiling into the many bowls laid out on the floor in my room.
It was a hell of a storm and seemed to have the boy's attention.
Unlike everyone else in the room, his thoughts were silent to me. I couldn't blame him of course. I accused him of trying to brainwash me.
"Hey, sleepy head, you're glazing off again." Hilde said, nudging my shoulder with her spoon hand. "Drink this, you need to get back your strength."
Earlier, Patrick brought back soup from the kitchen shortly after I regained consciousness. Like Hilde, the dark skinned boy looked disheveled and worn. Bags rimmed his eyes and he was paler than I remembered.
At the time I awakened, I was too out of it to say anything to him save a faint nod. Moments later, he vanished out the door, telling Hilde he wanted to get her some food.
Hilde. I stared at her, numb and vexed. Her face was drawn with exhaustion and she had lost weight. From what I understood, she hadn't slept for days and refused to leave my side.
We had our problems, but she loved me.
Then again, I'd do the same for her.
Like a child, I smirked. "That stuff tastes like fish guts." I said opening up wide.
"It probably is." Hilde slipped the spoon in my mouth.
Wincing from the strong fishy flavor, I swallowed. The warm liquid trickled down my throat, taking away some of the dry pasty flavor from my mouth. Still, I made a sour face.
Hilde's worry lessened some. She liked it when I acted like a kid. "Doctor says you're much stronger now."
"I guess I was lucky." I said, staring again at the kid. I'd give my right arm to figure out exactly what he did to me to make me recover. According to the Doctor Wilson, there was no sign of infection and whatever withdrawal symptoms I suffered from, I was through. My leg was still busted, but it was healing and quickly at that, even though I was weak as a kitten. Sheshie Rem worked a miracle.
"I never heard of a Newtype who could heal." I said to the boy, hoping to break his silence. From what little research I had done before coming to South America, I had discovered most Newtypes were just jacked into a galactic collective and able to tap it for abilities like telepathy and clairvoyance. Healing was a psychic ability and psychic Newtypes were rare. If my hunch about this kid being a South American biogenetic project was right, then his abilities were artificially enhanced.
Like mine. God damn, Alexie was a busy little bastard.
The boy said nothing at first. The only sounds in the room were the tinkle of dripping water and the whisper of distant minds.
"I said..."
"I heard you." The boy broke his vigil at the window and turned around. His eyes were troubled. "I'm glad you're feeling better. I should go now."
I pointed to the window and the beating rain. "In that? Don't be crazy. Look, if you're running off because I got paranoid and accused you of attacking me, I want you to know, I'm very sorry. I'm ignorant and a bit jumpy." As I spoke a flash of lightning and the crash of thunder shook the building.
Hilde grimaced and nearly spilled a spoonful of fish guts soup.
From the sound of it, a nearby tree took the brunt of the lightning. We never had weather like this in the colonies, but it reminded me of the hurricane in Boston a year back. I sank deeper into my pillows. I couldn't move well at all, so Hilde had to help me lay back down so I was comfortable.
I was wiped.
"No, it's not that. I understand how telepathy and other abilities can be startling,...like the lightning. Besides, my car is capable of weathering the worst of any storm." Sheshie explained. He seemed pleased I was concerned and happily projected it back at me without saying a damned word.
"Yeah, well, wait until morning." I said, yawning. I wasn't used to this telepathic thing and to be honest, I wasn't sure I liked it. I suppose it would be useful if I was still playing terrorist, but other than that, it was a royal pain.
Hilde shoved another spoonful of soup in my mouth, making me gag. "Stop being a baby." She cooed. "It's not that bad."
"Chicken would have been better." I said, rolling the salty flavor of the soup around in my mouth. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Sheshie smirk, amused with my complaints. "This is ghastly, but I'm sure it's another one of Mother Rose's illness remedies."
"Sure is." Hilde reached out and stroked my hair. Her fingers slipped down behind my ear and tickled the back of my neck tenderly.
I stupidly smiled, aroused by her touch. (Damn it, the old hormones were in full kilt - must have been that mind woogie the kid put on my brain). I almost propositioned her then and there, but held my tongue, knowing we'd embarrass the hell out of our guest. "Good old Mother Rose."
Our guest. He looked immediately away when Hilde touched me. By the look on his young face, he seemed very confused.
The door quietly opened and Patrick entered carrying a tray with a teapot and cup. "Hilde, I found some fresh tea in the kitchen. Mother Rose probably made it for you before retiring."
Wearily, Hilde nodded and watched the boy walk across the room and place the tray on the bed stand.
I touched his hand as he turned. "Pat."
The boy glanced over his shoulder, tired tear rimmed eyes focused on my fingers. His lips twitched into a half grin. "I knew you'd make it, Duo. We Maxwells, we're a tough crew aren't we?"
"Hey man, since when did you become a Maxwell?" I asked sternly. I was really proud of the boy. He was a survivor, like me. In fact, I thought of officially adopting him, but never had the guts to ask him about it. If he were anything like me, he'd want to be on his own, frightened to lose anyone who dared love him.
"Since I almost had to take care of the little lady and the bratling." He gestured to the crib and sleeping baby.
"You have a smart mouth for an eight year old, you know that? If you're gonna be a Maxwell, your gonna have to think of a better name than bratling for you kid sister." I informed. Speaking took a great deal of strength and my vision spotted. I rubbed my eyes.
" Ok, Duo, that's enough." Hilde stroked my head and face, her pale features concerned once more. "Pat, I think you should go to bed."
The boy yawned. "Sure. And, umm, Kary, she's a cute kid. I like her. Best kid sister a guy could have."
He had a full dose of cynicism, but the boy also had a heart of gold. Lazily, I stretched. "That's better. Just don't call me dad. I'm too young for that."
"Ok, Dad. See ya' around." He saluted, his words bringing up all sorts of warm, fuzzy and embarrassed feelings in my heart.
Dad. It sort of fit, but I still wasn't used to the idea.
I watched Pat vanish out the door.
Funny how he didn't even give a nod to the USAG kid. But then again, Pat held grudges. No doubt he didn't like the boy at all.
"Hmmm." I muttered, then looked to the door, mind unconsciously looking for Patrick's mental signature.
Nothing.
His mind was closed to me, unlike earlier when he found me on the beach.
Did that mean he was a trained telepath, like Sheshie?
I filed the thought away. Someday I'd ask him, but it could wait. Pat would tell me in time. He was a quiet and personal kid. I respected that. "I hope he sleeps." I said, not to anyone in particular.
Hilde nodded, yawned and placed the spoon down. "He should. He's been running ragged these last few days."
"He's not the only one." I pointed out.
She waved a hand at me, then turned to the teapot. She poured herself a cup and stirred in three cubes of sugar. "Well, I'll sleep when I'm sure you're fed."
"What? That shit? Hilde, I can wait until morning." I didn't like the way she abused herself, but then again, we were very alike.
"I'm sorry, I don't mean to interrupt." Sheshie said, approaching my bedside. "If you're feeling better Mr. Maxwell, I should go. People will be waiting for me."
Government people, no doubt. I studied him, suspicious for a second, then nodded. Whatever happened between us was over and I was more comfortable leaving it at that. Still, I had a million questions to ask the kid and if he ran off, I'd probably have to kidnap him in order to get close enough to ask them.
Sheshie laughed. "You don't have to kidnap me, Mr. Maxwell. I'll gladly meet with you in a few days. I can think of just as many questions for you."
Fuck. I was a God damned open book. What the hell was he doing? Reading my every thought? I shifted uncomfortably and looked at Hilde. Sipping tea, she eyed the kid. When she finished studying him, she placed her cup down. "Did he just read your mind?"
"Yep." I pressed my head into my pillow feeling a little angry. The kid didn't mean it, no doubt, but it was still bothersome. I noticed the boy's eyes widen. He looked down apologetic.
"I'm sorry. You project your thoughts. I can't help but read them." Big moist, green eyes blinked up. He appeared embarrassed.
I felt my face warm.
What the hell was with him? I was the one being the radio transmitter! "You mean, I'm sending you my thoughts?"
"Yes Mr. Maxwell, loud and clear." He said softly. "If you let me, I could show you how to control that."
"Yeah? How?" I asked. At this point, I was too weary to take any instructions on how to shield my mind. I could barely keep my eyes open. Yet, I lay staring at him, too stubborn to let sleep take me. If the kid could show me how to use some of my Newtype abilities, I'd gladly have a lesson. Besides, I wasn't looking forward to when my clairvoyance took a hold of me again.
That is, if I could keep awake.
Hilde settled back in her chair. Her sharp features relaxed some as she squirmed into a comfortable position. I watched long toned legs lift and settle on the edge of my bed. "I didn't realize how tired I was." She said, stretching.
I tapped my mattress. "You're welcome to crash here. After all, we are married."
She smirked. "That'd hardly be polite. Not in front of a guest."
Oops. I was so wiped my manners were gone.
Sheshie bashfully looked back to the window and the constant beat of the storm outside. "When you're feeling better, I will show you. All right?"
I nodded, easing some to the side so Hilde could nuzzle in beside me when the kid split. "Sure, but when? After my little escapade, I might have to blow the country." I tapped my leg to emphasize my dilemma.
The boy's brow wrinkled. "I'll make sure they won't come here for you."
That was mighty kind of him.
I wondered what he wanted from me? I went to ask, but he shook his head.
"Rest now, Duo. I'll be back, then we can talk."
"Sure." I muttered, looking up at Hilde.
She was dead out.
Damn. I was looking forward to molesting her until we both fell asleep.
Lately, I had shit luck.
Without anymore words, the kid turned away and went out the door, leaving me with a dripping ceiling and a sleeping wife.
Seconds later, I nodded off.
**********
Lightning flashed, blinding me with white light. Something flickered in the shadows and a flood of startlement and fear slammed into my brain.
My head throbbed and seared uncomfortably.
I bolted up, agony blasting in my leg as I came to my senses. Instinctively, my mind reached out, feeling for the source of the disconcerting feelings.
It was the kid.
His terror only lasted for a moment, then faded off into nothing.
Unconsciousness.
"Hilde?!" I called out in the darkness. A crash of thunder lit up the room with white hot lightning. Hilde still lay in her chair, soundly sleeping. She didn't even flinch to the sound of my voice. As the light faded, her features slipped into the shadows.
My gut twisted. I had a bad feeling. I glanced about, gaze settling on the clock next to my bed. Though it was dark, the clock face glowed and I clearly saw the time. I mustn't have slept for more than a few minutes.
No use waking Hilde. She needed her rest.
Hell, the entire mission was sleeping. The only thoughts I picked up on were a few muffled dreams. It was almost peaceful.
Despite my headache and the throbbing of my leg, I kicked my legs over the side of the bed and lowered them to the floor.
I was weak, but charged with enough adrenaline to run a squad of mobile suits. With a supreme effort, I stood. The pain alone threatened to make me topple back into my bed, but I managed to balance myself with the support of the back of Hilde's chair. I continued to stand there, until my mind cleared of dizziness. When the spells passed, I tried to walk.
Piece of cake, I thought, concentrating on ignoring the pain, I managed to make my way to the wall and a set of crutches neatly placed against it. Grateful for the extra support, I leaned into them. With the weight off my bum leg, the pain settled back into a dull ache. Moving became instantly easier. Confident, I grabbed my shotgun and started out the room.
In no time, I hobbled down the dark halls, my only light the flicker of ghostly candles along the walls. The lightning must have knocked out the generator running the mission's electricity.
After grabbing a flashlight from the kitchen, I vanished outside and into the night.
Heavy rains and the whipping of wind slapped my face. In seconds I was soaked to the bone. Undaunted, I slipped into the shadows and made my way though the shrubs. Since I exited from the kitchen, I could use the night and the cover of the brush to make my way to the entrance without being seen. If Sheshie was still here and alone, then I'd just surprise him. But if I interpreted my senses right, he wasn't alone and was in danger.
The brush rattled in the storm and trees above bent with the gale winds. Around me, the forest creaked as the jungle strained against the onslaught.
I had to be crazy to be out here alone in the pitch of night. The wind was so strong, it was difficult to walk without losing balance let alone my flashlight. Hell thick rain washed whatever visibility my flashlight lent, away.
Damn. My head pounded, forcing me to stop.
Shaking, I lifted a hand to my brow.
"It hurts, doesn't it, Duo?"
Lightning blinded me, then faded to the silhouetted features of Professor G.
I blinked. The pain refused to subside and seemed to grow. A second later, it exploded with so much force, I screamed and grabbed at my hair, gun and flashlight dropping into the bushes around me.
Delirious with anguish, I rocked on my crutches, the storm and Professor G faded from my sight.
After a few agonizing moments of discomfort, the pain trickled away leaving my vision dancing with a multitude of colorful neon spots.
Professor G smiled. "You're rejecting the process. I told you to stay on the medication. You were never meant to be a Newtype. You don't have the chemistry for it."
"Yeah well, tell me something I don't know!" I shouted over the rumbling in the sky. "Where is the kid?"
"Safe." G said simply. "With him, we can save you."
"What the hell are you talking about?" I gripped my crutches, face fluent with frustration and anger. I didn't fathom rejection to the process so soon after I got off the drugs. In fact, I was sure it would only happen over a period of years.
"It's time to finish the process." Professor G advanced, hand reaching for my shoulder. "Pity about the leg though. We were sure you'd find the boy down here, but we never thought you'd get caught like this."
What? Startled, I gaped at the mushroom haired man. Was he implying my coming to South America was all a set up? My stomach churned. Father Donaldson would never lead me into danger deliberately. "You mean you guys arranged it for me to wind up down here? Just so I could find that God damned Newtype kid?" I said, feeling betrayed. Mother Rose did inform me the fellow I was replacing died some weeks before my arrival and I wouldn't put that beyond Professor G and his insane buddies.
G nodded, pride flashing across his face. "Of course. We had no choice, Duo. Both you and Heero will die if we don't finish the process on you and we need another Newtype to complete it properly."
The process. I shuddered, stepping back. I had no intention of having my mind wiped once more. I liked being who and what I was. I'd rather die than start all over again. "No fucking way!" I tossed my hand up to the sky, infuriated, then pointed at G. "Look, if your going to do anything, reverse the damn thing! I'd like a little privacy! And let the kid go!"
"I'm afraid we can't do either, Duo." G said apologetically. "And I've invested too much time and money to let you become useless to me."
"Fuck off. I'm out of here. I'm through with you, Alexie and all your Goddamned experiments! The War is over G! Leave me alone." I went to turn, when something large grabbed me from behind.
Cursing, I fell back into the arms of a massive man. I felt my hands dragged behind my back and my crutches slipped to the ground. The man holding me was strong. He completely supported my weight and pulled me thrashing back against his body. A hand slipped over my face and something soft pressed over my nose and mouth.
It was moist and had a pungent sent: chloroform. I held my breath. If I twisted right, the thug holding me (Roshi-O?) would loose balance and I could escaped (to where and how, I didn't know). The bastard. He knew I'd never agree to his plans, so he was going to make me. I kicked with my good leg and jerked my weight to the side. I'd be fucking damned if they'd take me without a fight.
Professor G shook his head. Sadly, he dropped a hand to my shoulder.
"Duo, you'll only make things worse. Stop fighting. We're trying to help you. Trust me."
He kicked me in my injured leg.
I sucked in air and gasped, agony burning over my body like wildfire.
The world around me spun, the bitter sweet scent of medicated chloroform overwhelming my lungs and brain.
My sight dimmed, leaving me on the threshold of the waking world.
The hand on my face slipped away. "Hilde..."
"She'll be fine, Duo. Let go." G's voice echoed in my brain. "I'm trying to save your soul..."
Unconsciousness took me.
***********
Epilogue
Alexie
 
The boy lay still in the bed, his slender form covered by thin silken sheets. His placid features were lost in a peace filled rapture. We were one now, like all those I touched. Many of my young Newtypes shared in myself and longed for the touch of the web I wove.
It was only fitting for him to come to me in this manner.
I slipped out of the room, confident my dear Harlequin would rest the evening, then awaken to my servitude in the morning. His struggles were over with, for now.
All the chess pieces were set.
I stopped at the window, attention lifting to the blinking of the stars.
Angel left Earth. I felt his spirit drift some.
It was sooner than I expected, but easily compensated for.
Angel didn't worry me. In time he'd return.
It was the others that concerned me. Unlike earlier, I had no sense of them. I let my mind wonder, searching for each one, but found nothing but dead space.
"Strange, very strange." Yet I knew they'd continue with my plans. I knew each of them intimately.
They'd never fail me. Disturbed, yet pleased, I continued down the hall.
It was time to ready myself. Three of the five were already ensnared in the web. Soon the others would follow.
"Master Fiero, you summoned me?" A man servant approached from the end of the hallway.
"Yes. Prepare our guest quarters. I'm expecting another guest soon." I said, folding my arms. No one here ever questioned me. My staff was one of the best. It was the only way I'd have it. "A very important guest." I stressed.
A young ambassador to be exact, I smiled to myself. How could I have a harlequin with out his faithful heart. I looked forward to seeing the Winner child. It had been too long since we'd met.
"Very well, sir." The man nodded, then slipped away to his duties. He was a good man and took excellent care of my estate while I was gone. If he didn't, I'd gladly kill him.
In the end, everything I mastered ran efficiently.
I was the creator and the world around me was my masterpiece. With a sigh, I retired to my chambers. I didn't want to admit it, but the young harlequin put up more of a fight than I expected. Pity he wasted so much energy. I could have used it elsewhere. Nonetheless, the task was done and now I had to rest myself.
Soon, very soon. I looked forward to the up coming war and I felt it was very close...
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Continued in EPISODE 2, Chapter I