Title: Two Roads Diverged Part 1/? Author: Truth Archive: GW Addiction www.geocites.com/fenris_wolf0/ 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: Strong language. Several shifts in perspective. A bit longer than usual as well. Disclaimer: Gundam Wing belongs to somebody else, sadly. Feedback, comments and criticisms cheerfully accepted at firstname.lastname@example.org ********* Two Roads Diverged You never know when you'll run across some useful item of information - that last interesting little tidbit that takes all of your assembled data and turns the disparate pieces into an elegant picture.... I love intrigue. The OZ network of painstakingly gathered spies and informants has begun to unravel. To be specific, the part devoted to keeping tabs on the five Gundam pilots is disintegrating - and quickly, too. It took a great deal of cunning to remove my own operatives from that net before they also disappeared. In point of fact, I was too late in one case. I'll make them pay for that. One of those young men (they appear to be my own age, if Zechs' report is to be believed) is very clever indeed. They must have taken the information that OZ had gathered and traced it back to its various sources. Those sources have been disappearing at an alarming rate. I guess the pilots of Gundams 02 and 05 are holding a grudge.... Zechs handled the situation with pilot 02 very clumsily. He should never have given that boy the opportunity to get away. It grates on me even now, especially after all of the trouble that I went to in order to make sure that he was captured in the first place. Months of planning, straight down the tubes. Ah well. I usually have more than one iron the fire and there are several ways that I can salvage this little project. I still have not managed to get my hands on the file that Lady Une has put together on the five Gundams and their pilots. She is being very careful with it. But I have heard that there are _pictures_ and video footage as well. The information in those files is practically priceless.... There was a great deal more to the pilot of 02 than I had originally thought. I had pegged him as an easy target, but he may actually be _more_ dangerous than the others. Pilot 05 is obviously not going to be a problem. Not only is he without a Gundam, he is apparently suffering from shell-shock. A weakling, easily disposed of. But back to that interesting tidbit. Lady Une is good, I'll give her that, but her present opponents are just as good. Add to that their rather obsessive approach to their mission and she is really no match for them. If only she could access some of Kushrenada's imagination.... On second thought, that's a bit too scary to contemplate. It is actually fairly easy to pinpoint the identity of Lady Une's spies - providing that you can gain initial access to her personal files, a task which usually proves to be fiendishly difficult. It took me the better part of six weeks of nearly constant work to decipher her various pass-codes. By all indications, it took her current opponent a little under thirteen days to achieve the same goal. I wonder who he is. Well, whoever he is, he's _good_. But so is Lady Une. She only presents her reports to Kushrenada when she has confirmation from at least _two_ independent sources. She still follows up on unconfirmed reports, or has her agents do it, but Kushrenada never formally hears about anything that has not been checked and double-checked to a fare-thee-well. She keeps her files in the same fashion. The information in them is well organized and concise. Without the encryption key, they reveal very little and she did not put that key anywhere within the system. She's clever. But it is in one of these same files that I found my interesting information. Lady Une has not yet uncovered _our_ agents in her organization, and it was through one of them that we fed her the information on pilot 02. Duo Maxwell (pilot 02's name, according to my files) was being held incommunicado, awaiting replacement. Lady Une knows this for a fact, as not only was it among one of the reports that we sent her, the pilot himself admitted as much to Zechs. However, he was not simply awaiting replacement - he _was_ replaced, if only temporarily. And this second pilot is apparently being held prisoner by his supposed comrades - somewhere in the south of France. Fascinating. This puts an entirely new perspective on things. That young man could very easily be the piece that I need to take this game to a new level. Grandfather has allowed me to take over part of the Foundation's spy ring and use it however I like in order to further his goals. But I also have goals of my own. While Une knows about this second pilot, she has no idea where he is, or what his status may be. I think that Kushrenada could benefit from the acquisition of this sixth boy. As could I. I do believe that I shall arrange for Lady Une to receive a report on the whereabouts of this sixth pilot, and his current status vis-a-vis the other five boys. Yes. This will do splendidly. One way or another, his reactions should reveal Kushrenada's true plans for the future. He would be a fool not to recognize the opportunities inherent in this situation, and twice a fool not to exploit them to the utmost. Whatever else he may be, Treize Kushrenada is no fool. I also am not a fool. I know that Kushrenada is in no way truly loyal to Romafeller. Grandfather should not trust him. Kushrenada is playing some deep game of his own, but I have - as yet - been unable to discover exactly what it is. He and Lady Une both keep their most private files firmly inside their heads, with no files to access or hard copies to steal. But I'll find out what he's up to. Wait and see. ****** End Dorothy's Commentary ****** I was worried about my part in our upcoming operation. We had put our original plans on hold in order to 'weed out' the OZ spies and traitors among Howard's staff, the support crew of the doctors and professors and even among the Manguanacs. Actually, Professor G and Doctor J had to fend for themselves. The rest of us weren't about to help them with anything, save perhaps a suicide attempt. At any rate, once we had worked out our tension on the appropriate targets, we reconvened for a second conference. We had managed to gather some information of our own during our brief sojourn into the dark underworld of spy and counter-spy. Unfortunately, we had not yet discovered who had originally sold the information on Duo to OZ, but we were not finished looking yet, either. Duo was all for sticking to our original plan and, truthfully, so was I. We were out-voted by Heero, Trowa and Wufei. Had Heero and Wufei known where this would lead, I doubt that they would have been so dead set on this change of plans. When we finally found time to interrogate our aspiring Shinigami, we found him to be truculent, arrogant and a little bit panicked. When he discovered that G and the others were going to be unable to bail him out, he became even more panicked. I could almost feel sorry for him, but his attitude wasn't ever going to win him friends. Appearance-wise, he wasn't very inspiring. He was short and slender with blonde hair and blue eyes. He had none of the intensity that marked Heero and Wufei, none of the energy that carried Duo along and none of the control that Trowa has. Most of all, he didn't have us. He didn't have _anyone_ to stand by him. I am singularly blessed in my friends and companions. His name is Lewis and he's a nasty piece of work. His first comment upon beholding Duo proved not only that, but also that he has extremely poor judgement. It was something along the lines of "I hope you enjoyed your haircut". It took both Trowa and Wufei to keep Duo from killing the little monster. I guess it had been young Lewis' idea to send Duo to military school... and all for that one, merciless, haircut. If Duo doesn't kill him, Wufei or Heero will. But right now we still need him alive. There were still too many things that we didn't know, too many loose ends that needed tying up. If Lewis truly was the one who had planned Duo's incarceration, then surely there were other things that he could tell us. Would tell us. Eventually. But until he decides to cooperate, he is almost worthless. We do not have the time to convince him to be reasonable right now. Heero is going to concentrate on tracking the various OZ spies that we allowed to escape. Once they resume making their reports, he will hack into the OZ spy network and begin monitoring their reports on _us_. Trowa is going to infiltrate the ranks of OZ once more and get himself transferred to Kushrenada's staff. He will see what he can find out from that position. He made some comment about being eligible for their pension plan soon. I think he meant that he feels he's been spending too much time with the OZ troops. I feel very bad for him, but someone has to do it, and the rest of us have been disqualified for various reasons. Duo and Wufei are going to carry on as usual. Well, almost. Wufei almost murdered Duo yesterday, and Heero was helping him.... At any rate, Wufei and Duo are going to continue to take the various missions that come up, though it will be more difficult for them, as there are now only two to do the work of five. Of course, they do both have brand new Gundams.... Particularly nice ones at that. And me? I'm already having nightmares about my own assignment. But I'm the only one who can pull it off. With luck, I will always have back up close to hand, but who knows? Heero is almost as unhappy about my assignment as he is about Duo's latest project. And that's saying a lot. Trowa hasn't said anything, but I can tell that he's unhappy as well. Wufei is too busy cursing the day he ever decided to rescue Duo to bother me much. And Duo? Well, he's taken to hiding in my room so that I'll defend him from the others. He's not worried about me at all. "I know you can do it," he told me, emerging from my closet once I'd gotten rid of Heero. "You're the best judge of people that I know. It'll be a snap!" Somehow, I don't think it will be that easy. And somewhere at the back of my mind is the nagging suspicion that I've forgotten something important. ****** Quatre's Commentary Ends ****** Heero is _blonde_. That's the first thing that I noticed. The bone crushing hug that I received was second. This was followed by an hour long lecture on trust and endangering your allies. Oh well. I've heard worse. So, back to Heero's hair. It's not really blonde. When he and Quatre went to ground, Heero had gotten a haircut and a dye job. The dye job has had time to begin to grow out, and he's had another trim, so most of his hair is now the proper color, but the ends are still mostly yellow. It looks sorta cool, actually. When I told him so, he narrowed his eyes and snarled at me. It's _good_ to be home. When we finally got our shit together, I got Quatre to help me go through what was left of Wu's wardrobe. We got rid of _all_ the white. Well, we let him keep the underwear. Wu's gonna have to do some serious shopping. He's down to the two outfits that we brought away from L5 with us, and one or two old school uniforms. Not that he ever _had_ much of a wardrobe.... Not one of nature's little clothes horses, I guess. But back to Heero's hairdo. His new look _fascinates_ me. Maybe it's just the opportunity to stare at someone else. The guys are _still_ all staring surreptitiously at my head, and it's nice to see someone else on the receiving end. No sooner had we all gotten together than Quatre split us up again. Well, it seemed like it, anyway. Me and Wu are gonna go back to the usual routine. Trowa was scampering off to do his munchkin impersonation (God, I just crack me up some days). Heero was gonna do evil spy things and Quatre was just gonna disappear. Quatre has things to do. I know he's worried, but I'm sure he'll be fine. He's a big boy now, and we'll all keep an eye out for him. Wu and I are gonna have to change our names, and Wu needs to alter his appearance quite a bit. Me? Hell, without my hair, I look just like everyone else anyway. I suggested that we dye Wu's hair and the _look_ that he gave me promised death and mayhem. Maybe Heero was tired of the way I kept staring at his hair, but whatever his reasons, he supported my part of the argument. When we finally got Wu's reluctant assent, Heero, Trowa and I went shopping for hair care products while Quatre took care of long term housing arrangements for our little rat bastard barber wanna-be, Lewis. Wu was sent off to buy new clothing. We gave him a detailed list, just to be sure that he'd look presentable. Wu is _definitely_ not one of nature's little fashion models, though he certainly looks like one in Lian's clothes. He can't wear any of those, though. I'll tell you why later. Wu pitched _another_ fit when he finally got a look at the color we'd chosen for him, but Quatre and I begged and pleaded while Trowa and Heero blocked the exits and he eventually gave in. Wu's a sucker for the whole puppy-dog eyes bit. When we were finished, we made him put on a pair of the jeans he had purchased and a t-shirt. He looked pretty good. Heero gave him a pair of sunglasses and I dragged out my leather coat (Thanks, Quatre) and he looked pretty damn cool. He didn't seem to think so. I suggested that all he needed now was an earring, and barely escaped with my life. Wu just has no sense of fashion. Heero didn't think that _he_ needed an earring either. Quatre quietly added that he didn't think that earrings would do anything to add to the overall sartorial effect, but I stuck to my guns. Some day I will learn to keep my mouth shut. So, after Wu's forcible make-over (and he's _still_ crabby about it), he and I found ourselves a nice, boring American high school. It was Wu's idea to register as upper classmen, to throw OZ further off the track. We could both pose as sixteen or seventeen year olds fairly easily, and hopefully, OZ was still looking for Duo Maxwell and Chang Wufei, aged 15. They shouldn't give a second look to William Moore and James Lee, aged 17 and 16 respectively. Yeah, that's right. Heero hacked a FYEO file and found pictures of all _three_ of us in there. That's right, him, me and Wu. Me, both pre and post hair and lots of Wu as Chang Lian. There was even video footage.... But the part Heero was _really_ pissed about was the picture of him. I was _sure_ that I'd managed to toast all the files of his brief stay in that hospital. Oh well, nobody's perfect. Anyway, Wu fixed us up a false past and found us an apartment not far from the school. Story was that I was an orphan and Wu's family took me in. But they travel a lot, so we spend most of our time on our own. Wu also fixed us a set of emancipation papers so we wouldn't have any problems with the local Social Services. Our school work was dead easy, particularly after the fucking academy work we'd both been doing. No one seemed suspicious and the Deathscythe Hell and Altron are safely hidden nearby. Everything is quiet. Not even a single possible mission has yet cropped up to disturb our lives. (Not that the Prof [May-his-soul-rot-in-Hell-for-all-eternity-Amen] is probably ready to take his life in his hands by asking me to do him any favors....) In fact, life would be ideal if it weren't for one tiny little imperfection. Our schoolmates. ****** Duo's Commentary Ends ****** Damn Duo Maxwell to hell. It wasn't enough that he had to force me to wear this garbage that American teen-agers seem to find so marvelous. It wasn't enough that he had to foist that leather coat off on me to 'help with the image'. No. He had to _dye_ my hair. And of all the colors he could have chosen.... Do you have any _idea_ how much attention that I draw _normally_ in a rural midwestern US of A setting? I'm the only Chinese in our class. Almost the only one in the entire county. I'm young. (Younger than they think, even. My records say that I'm a sixteen year old senior who skipped a grade.) I dress like a maverick, in artfully ripped blue jeans and tight shirts with a long leather coat that must be worth $500.00. Add to that my long hair which Duo just _had_ to dye.... All right, to be completely fair, the American midwest is by no means as uptight as it used to be. But a boy my age and of _any_ cultural descent with _white_ hair? No one dyes their hair strange colors any more! Not in high school at any rate. I feel like a character out of those damn anime shows that Duo is so obsessed with. He tried to get me to buy an earring and when that didn't work, he turned to Heero - who also refused. Then he started in on the idea of tattoos.... In the end, Trowa had dragged him away and Heero and I sat down together and commiserated about our respective hairstyles. At least Heero's look is fairly common, these days. It's not really the color of my hair that bothers me. When rooming with Duo at our _last_ school, we had encountered what I, at least, felt was excessive adulation. The girls _and_ boys had followed Duo everywhere! Our room had been overflowing with love notes and little trinkets. It's actually worse here. Duo finds the situation hilarious. His current threat is to start a fan club for my many admirers. I would almost rather be back at the academy. Almost. This was Duo's intent from the start, I think. Some sort of plot to either drive me mad or force me to hide at home with the doors locked and windows barred, which is something that I would prefer anyway. But they have a number of recent eyewitness accounts of the way I behave in a school setting, and while I have no intention of letting my grades slip or studies suffer simply to enhance my disguise, I am going to have to develop some sort of social life. _Why_ did I ever think that I missed the old Duo Maxwell? Revenge _will_ be mine. ****** Wufei's Commentary Ends ****** While it's fun to watch Wu squirm, he is attracting too _much_ attention. Between his natural good lucks, his current bad-boy attire and his quietly superior attitude, he is the hottest thing at our school. I'm seriously considering investing in a baseball bat to keep the women away. Wu never needs to pack a lunch, or carry his own books, or worry about finding a partner for class projects. And they follow him _HOME_! All right, so I have my own little following. That's different! I'm a social animal. I love being surrounded by people. Wu hates it. But he's not telling them to go away, and he hasn't been rude to even one of them yet. I'm considering renting the Invasion of the Body Snatchers and seeing if there's not something in that idea after all. ****** Duo's Commentary Ends ****** Heero: Jealous much, Duo? Duo: I am _not_ jealous. Quatre: And there's not much sand in the desert, either. Trowa: Exactly. Truth: Ditto. Duo: I am NOT jealous!!!! Truth: Hey, look! It's Wufei! Duo and Heero: Where?! *long silence* Quatre: Well, that was unexpected.... Trowa: No, it wasn't. Heero: What's up for Part 2? Truth: Treize. All: Treize??? Truth *nods*: Treize. All: WHY???? Truth: Plot device.