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 firstname.lastname@example.org *********** 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!