Chapter Eleven: Blade
It will be a very big explosion.
Wing and Deathscythe will take most of the mountain with them when they go.
If they go.
/Extremely undesirable outcome. Compute to avoid./
I finish rigging the self-destruct sequences of both Gundams to a program on my laptop. Dr J has given me many abilities; multi-tasking is one of them. While my fingers fly over the keyboard, handling the equations of raw destruction, my mind is processing several conversations from the high-jacked comms system of the base. All comms are open but the enemy does not know this, they cannot access the feed. I can. I listen in on all their conversations, looking for the ones I need. A program switches through them on a ten-second interval. If I pick up a keyword or interesting subject I add the frequency to the jumble of others already playing in the background. They're all muddled together but my mind sorts them. The results filter through my concentration in final form.
/Conversation 1 - started recording at mention of 'exodryne'./
Voice #1: "Why do you want that shit for? It's on the prescribed list."
Voice #2: "Never mind that, do you have any?"
/ ...exodryne.powerful psychotropic agent, used for interrogations in cases where subject has grown habituated to normal psycho-depressants./
Voice #1: "Jesus I don't know, this is a hospital, not a- just a minute, why do you need it? And what's this request for Phenorbem? We haven't used this for fifteen years."
Voice #2: "This is need to know. What I can tell you is, we got this case down here. Tough one. Seems resistant to a lot of sedatives, and... other things. We need the Phenorbem to dig a bullet out of his shoulder blade. We - you don't want to know why we want the exodryne glycate. Just get it down here if you have any."
Voice #1: "The hospital administrator is going to ask me some awkward questions if I let you have this."
Voice #2: "You have some?"
Voice #1: "Yes, for research. On rats, Jeff. On rats!"
Voice #2: "Just get it down here. Refer the admin to the Colonel. Or just remind him who's footing the bill for his fancy clinical research wing."
Voice #1: " ...OK".
/Conversation 2 - started recording at mention of 'little bastard'./
Voice #1: "He's wanted for interrogation, Sarge. They can't do that if he's not stabilized."
Voice #2: "But my men-"
Voice #1: "We're in a hospital, Kenzy! Your men will be taken care of."
Voice #2: " ...good."
Voice #1: "I'll put you up for a merit, Kenzy, that was a really good shot."
Voice #2: "Sir?"
Voice #1: "Never seen anybody move that fast, little creep was like lightning. Good thing we had him cornered. *Better* thing you're such a crack shot, getting him in the shoulder just as he was about to turn the gun on himself."
Voice #2: ".I was aiming for his head, sir."
Voice #1: " ...What?"
Voice #2: "I was aiming for the little fucker's head. Sir."
Voice #1: "Sarge-"
Voice #2: "He killed Fred and Abby! And that guy from section C! And he's put at least three others in intensive care! I- "
Voice #1: "Calm down, Sergeant."
Voice #2: "We're still finding bodies all over the place! Him and his little friend just ripped through-"
Voice #1: "Sarge-"
Voice #2: "I can't believe you put him in the best IC unit! He wasn't even that badly-"
Voice #1: "He's got to be OK and fast, Kenzy! But if it makes you feel any better, you did kill him with that shoulder shot and killed him hard. He's going to be tortured to within an inch of his miserable little terrorist life and if he survives he'll be hanged. Or shot. Or burned for all I care-"
Voice #2: " ...I wanted to."
Voice #1: "I know Sergeant, I know. Tell you what, I'll make sure you get put on execution detail if you-" voices fade out of comms range.
/Conversation 3- started recording at mention of 'properly restrained?'./
Voice #1: "Why? He's in no condition to-"
Voice #2: "Just check them already!"
Voice #1: "Good god, what's with-"
Voice #2: "Jake, I was in the base in the Midlands they hit a few months back, they're not human. This one Chinese kid single-handedly blew up- Just check the goddamn cuffs already!"
Voice #1: "Jeez keep it together. See, they're ok."
Voice #2: "Good. Well, now if we can just get that sedative down here we can get the bullet out. He's stable at least."
Voice #1: "He won't be if we can't get that bullet out of his subclavean."
Voice #2: "I'll dig it out without sedation if he starts to crash but I'd rather not, what with the concussion. He's ok so far. Tough bastard, I'll give him that."
Voice #1: " ...he's very young."
Voice #2: "Don't let looks fool you, Jake. This guy's killed more people than you've saved, and I think you're a damn good surgeon."
Voice #1: " ...Damn war."
Voice #2: "Forget it, Jake. We just patch him up- ah, here's the- good god, we have to give him this?"
Voice #3: "Best we can do, doc, our information on these guys say they're fairly resistant to most sedatives and analgesics."
Voice #2: "But- ...oh well, his stats are excellent considering, it shouldn't hurt him. Let's get this over. What's this for?"
Voice #3: "Get the nurse to hook it into his IV, then Marcus here will wheel him away. Marcus, you have a squad ready?"
Voice #4: "Yessir."
Voice #3: "Good, you'll take him down to the west wing, interrogation cell 3B, I think they want him there when he wakes up."
/Room 3B, west wing, compute against base blue prints.localized./
Voice #1: "What... what is in the IV, sir?"
Voice #2: "Never mind, Jake. Jake? Jake! I need a hand here, retract this while I fix the venal walls."
Voice #1: " ...OK"
Voice #3: "When will he be out of surgery? Doctor?"
Voice #2: "Justaminute. Retract. Suction please. Jake, can you fix that? I'll... here we go." Clink of metal into a container. "That's done. We'll close him up. I'll go with him to the west wing, make sure he's stabilized there and coming to properly.I'll stay for the interrogation as well. You'll need medical supervision with this one, trust me, especially with Phenorbem."
Voice #1: "Is-Is that - I mean-"
Voice #2: "Stow it, Jake, and face facts. I'll meet you down there, officer. We should be there in twenty minutes or so."
Voice #3: "OK, I'll see you-" I stop listening.
/Compute course of action./
I have thirty minutes or so to get to the designated room. Nice of them to patch Duo up for me, but with Phenorbem sedation and an exodryne drip, he's not going to be mobile.
/Mission objective requires extraction of pilot 02 from interrogation. If not mobile, elimination is the next optimal solution./
I'll see what state he's in when I get there. Duo's tough and has been conditioned to resist most drugs like I have, he'll hopefully be able to move on his own fairly quickly. I hope.
The self-destruct sequence is programmed. Both Gundams will blow if tampered with, or if I do not send a belay command every thirty minutes. The back door I installed into the enemy's computer system is still there, I can use their landlines to send the command. If I'm stopped, they'll have no more than two uncooperative bodies -or preferably two dead bodies- and no Gundams.
I give Wing, hunched over in the tunnel, one last look and, gun in hand, run back towards the base crawling with troops.
My hacking is still in effect. They've rebooted the system twice but I'm much too good for that, I've buried subroutines in the startup that corrupts every attempt at bypassing my modifications. So far their repairs haven't even tickled Duo's viruses. The alarms are still off -though most people are now aware that they have been attacked, the gas tanker blowing up was heard over the whole compound. Doors are still jammed, camera and comms are offline, the troops are in disarray. I manage to sneak into the west wing, find a computer terminal, send the belay command with four minutes to spare, then make my way down to the third sub-basement and the warren of the underground buildings to the interrogation rooms.
The room is in two sections. The external room has a long table where two men are carefully going through Duo's pack. The H-6 is on one side waiting for the bomb disposal squad, his comm link is in a Faraday container for disarming and analysis, the rest is being slowly pulled apart. The other side of the room is dominated by banks of monitors, sensors and cameras in front of a one-way mirror. I can see Duo strapped to a gurney on the other side, a doctor hovering over him. There are two guards on the door leading to the interior room.
I kill them first, my silenced shots ripping the air still innocent of any sirens or alarms.
The doctor cowers against the wall, he looks as if he's about to faint. I keep him there, covered by my gun, in case I need his help with Duo. I rip the IV of liquid torture out of my lover's arm and shake him carefully.
He's as white as a sheet and looks even younger than his sixteen years, small against the gurney meant to restrain taller prisoners. His shoulder is bandaged and there's a lump and gash on his head beneath the hair-line. Both wounds explain how they got him alive. I twitch the sheet off his body. He's bare-chested, contusions crawling over his ribs in burgeoning bruises, and he has a bulky bandage over his calf where his black pant-legs were cut off. From the size, probably a bullet hole. Damn.
"02!" I shake him harder.
The doctor licks his lips. "He-he's heavily sedated, he won't come to. You should run away while-"
He practically screams as Duo's hand shoots up towards my face, arrested with a crash as the cuffs restrain him to the gurney.
Duo starts to twist and snarl, fighting his restraints.
"Du- 02! It's me! 01!" I grab his good shoulder, then his face, gun still on the doctor. I have to get through to him before he does any damage to himself.
"Duo!" I hiss near his ear, hoping he won't bite me. His eyes are unfocused but he blinks rapidly, and his struggles fade.
"Hee-" I put my fingers on his lips. He wrenches away on instinct, but I got through to him.
"02, I'm going to release your cuffs, OK? You awake? Lucid?"
"Errr-" he whispers, licking cracked and bruised lips. He's not too badly beaten up, considering. We've both been a lot worse on former captures. Someone with a cool head must have intervened with the troops once he went down with the bullet in the shoulder and the crack over the head.
"Wh-what happened, where are we?" His voice is less than a whisper.
"Just a minute." I take two steps towards the doctor -he whinnies in fear and shoves himself back against the wall- and slam my fist into the side of his head. He goes down with a grunt.
"It's ok, situation secured. For now." I fish Duo's lock picks from his hair and struggle over the cuffs for a minute. He groans with pain as I release one cuff, and grabs his shoulder. His hand is trembling badly, in fact his whole body is shaking convulsively. I remember a few particulars about the drugs he's been given and scowl.
He's not going to be able to walk.
/ Mission objective-/
But he can try. I can carry him part of the distance, get us out of here to start with.
But it will have to do, for now.
"Wh-" Duo gasps as I haul him up without warning, it turns into a cry of pain as I jog his shoulder. I grab him around the waist and hold him up as I drag him out the door.
"I suggest you recover fast." I snap. "We have to get out of here rapidly. If you can't follow, I will have to leave you behind." It goes without saying that I won't leave him alive. Duo groans, in pain and acknowledgement.
I leave him setting the timers on the H-6 charges to cover our tracks and cause a distraction while I quickly scout out the corridors ahead. I can't come back the way I came in, I left a couple of unconscious or dead guards behind, someone might have found them and brought in reinforcements. Blue-prints flash through my mind. If we forge on ahead, we can reach the colonel's office in the administration quarters -I'm pretty sure they'll be empty at this time of night and in the middle of a crisis- and I can use his computer connection to send the next belay command. In the next fifteen minutes. Or no more Gundams. I growl under my breath and sprint back to room 3B.
"I can't believe you did that!" Duo squeaks.
"It is unacceptable for our Gundams to fall into enemy hands."
"But-" Duo looks like he's about to be sick. He's more affected by the possibility of Deathscythe's destruction than his own.
/Logical. Pilot replaceable, Gundam irreplaceable./
My fingers fly over the code, hit the enter button. My mouth is as dry as sawdust; there had been about two minutes and a half to spare.
Thirty minutes now till the next belay command.
The Colonel's office contains a camp bed for late night work; I tossed Duo on it before turning on his computer and sending the belay command. The room is high up on the second floor and in the back of the admin building's huge lobby. There are three soldiers on guard on the ground floor of the lobby, twenty meters away, talking in hushed tones amongst themselves. I give them a careful glance through the colonel's window. All the building's exits towards the elevators go through those men. I can take them out, but there are patrols all over the building, if they hear a single shot.It's going to be hard enough to make it through the patrols as it is.
I glance at Duo. He's pale and shaking, and rubbing his legs as if trying to massage feeling back into them. He's not yet able to walk, and the fits of shaking have gotten worse.
He stops rubbing his legs, leans back against the wall. I know what he's going to say. He blinks rapidly, trying to focus, but his voice is quite firm.
"Buddy, the next time you enter that code, you're doing it from Wing's cockpit, ok?"
/ Analysis originating 02: confirmed./
I grunt and turn to watch the lobby below us. The men show no sign of leaving. They might when the bombs near the interrogation room go off. But maybe not.
"Things are going to get hot and nasty." Duo mutters as if following my thoughts.
"Hn." I check my gun automatically then re-holster it. Nine minutes before the timer on the H-6 charges runs out, and distracts those guards. Twenty eight before I need to re-enter the belay code on a computer with a privileged link to the landlines, and there aren't many of those in the base.
"Heero?" The tone is sharp, through the pain and drugs.
"I am still going through our escape parameters." I answer his unasked question. The equation is proving intractable.
/Reduce number of parameters./
The gun at my back seems to burn.
Who would pilot Deathscythe? Eliminating Duo would mean destroying his Gundam.
/ ...Confirm. Recalculate parameters./
"What's there to go through?" Duo snaps, his teeth shattering, keeping his voice low. "I can't walk, I'm practically having seizures, I don't think you can carry me that fast that far, not without getting shot. Heero. You.you have to do this."
"I am going through escape options. Shut up."
" ...s'ok babe."
My fist crashes against his. The blade flies away as it bites into his chest. I backhand him across the bunk. The knife hits the floor across the room and slides away with a clatter and skittering noise. I'm quickly back against the wall in a silent crouch and I glance out the window at the soldiers outside.
One of them looks around vaguely but otherwise they do not react.
I glare back at Duo who is struggling up from the bunk, shaking his head dazedly and putting a tentative hand to his jaw. Purple eyes slowly lift to glower at me, his entire body radiates tension even as it shakes. I won't catch him off guard again.
"What the hell do you think you are doing, pilot?" He snarls, shoving himself up fully. He immediately goes pale and starts shaking again, gripping his shoulder.
"I told you-"
Seven minutes for the H-6 and twenty six minutes for the self-destruct command.
And Duo-.No use. I've pressed the button myself, so I know he will try to do it again at the first opportunity.
"Heero!" His voice is a distraction.
/Objective must be attained./
The alternative is to lose a pilot and a Gundam.
Escape parameters- how far-
If he tries to kill himself while we're escaping he might get me killed as well.
Six minutes and twenty five minutes.
Two Gundams out of the war effort, and the data possibly lost, if Barton didn't receive it.
/Mission cannot fail! Reduce parameters now!/
His eyes are on my face, I think he sees what he wants there.
"Very well." I give the guards one last glance, then turn and walk towards him. I know what I must do.
"We have fives minutes or so before the bombs explode and I have to go." I say as I stand above him. He gives me an uncertain look then glances towards the knife in the corner.
"If you wish for any last physical contact, you have five minutes." I glance at my watch. It's not like I can do anything before the bombs blow.
His lips move in shock. "I- uh,... "
"If you wish this of course."
"What- What did you have in mind? Five minutes is a bit short even for a quickie, lover."
"It's up to you, but you're probably right. A more limited form of contact might be better. Four and a half-"
"Won't have time to do this proper-" Duo hisses, scrabbling off the bunk and clinging to me for support. "Try not to deck me, babe. I've had a rough day."
/Proximity - no threat./
Definitely no threat, he can barely stand, but his hands are surprisingly strong as they grip my upper arms as low as they can go while still supporting him. I grab him by the waist and he sags against me gratefully.
"Always knew... you were a hopeless romantic, Yuy." His lips brush against mine, there is so little time to quiet my reflexes, he's going to keep it simple.
"If you're going to, do it like you mean it, Duo." I snap, and he blinks in surprise. Suddenly his eyes water. I check my hold on his waist, making sure that I am not hurting him. I don't seem to be.
"I-" Three minutes.
The kiss starts slow, caressing-
- then deepens, suddenly aching with passion. I feel my body respond, but his hands on my arms are so light, it's my hold on his waist all that's keeping him up.
But there's still a few more minutes.
Duo slips inside my defences, my conditioning temporarily subdued. He's not taken much time in the approach but we've been intimate long enough for that little to suffice. He can feel it, his good arm slides up to my shoulder, his hand cups my face, brushes my jaw.
One arm around his waist to hold him to me, the other hand lingers up his body, caressing his chest, his throat, his face where I can feel a tear streak, then slides down to the neck.
Duo stiffens instinctively, hand darting to a lost weapon, as my fingers put growing pressure on his internal carotid artery. Then he relaxes, accepting.
Lips move against mine as the pressure grows. One second, two. Three.
"Love y... "
He's slipping away from me, it will take thirty seconds before the damage is irreversible. There's a smile on his lips as his head slips against my shoulder, it's not the worst of silent deaths.
On to chapter twelve
Back to chapter ten