Part Forty-One: Our Dreams Will Have To Serve
These memories, too, are bound to die
so our dreams will have to serve us.
Tomorrow may be the day that our love betrays us
--- Michael Timmons
Heero spent the afternoon with Frank, testing the AK-15 in a soundproofed room. It wasn't a range, but at least he could fire into the tank and test the gun's accuracy. After an hour of dismantling, reassembling, and adjusting the equipment, he nodded, once. Without another word, he left the weapon with Frank. He'd see it again soon enough.
Hilde, Enny, and Jeet arrived. The hotel maids brought down a package for Duo, which turned out to be the latest in communications technology. Each of them would be wearing one. Duo spent several hours testing the hotel security's system to determine the safest wavelength, and left one set for Heero to find in the morning. Three sets were returned to Hilde's room, and the fourth was set aside for Trowa in the space soon to be occupied by a Kimber 1911AX and two loaded magazines.
Everything in the apartment was packed except the futon and floor pillows. Jeet arrived at the door, looking remarkably clean-cut; his blue hair had been stripped back to its natural blond. For a second, Heero gaped, thinking he was seeing a brown-eyed Quatre. Then the moment passed and Jeet was gone with their suitcases. Even their coats were taken, and the dark-haired man sighed, not looking forward to wearing an old sweatshirt to work rather than his comfortable leather jacket. They would be leaving the hotel wearing only what was on their backs. Duo had taken the laptop to the hotel already. Heero wandered aimlessly through the apartment, a little adrift. He read his last book, until it was time for bed.
General surveillance equipment was in place before breakfast. Duo left word that Enny had left the collection of bugs under the second planter from the right by the main gallery's door, and Heero busied himself leaving bugs around the general areas as he assisted the setup for the convention's first luncheon. By dusk, Enny, Jeet and Hilde had left the remaining devices, and the laptop was situated behind ductwork in the hotel's laundry room, unobtrusively recording everything the devices picked up. All top-floor charges were in place, with timers set, except for the arboretum. It was closed for pesticide spraying prior to the convention. Heero would have to set those on Day Two.
At lunch the first day, Heero nearly walked into Hilde as he navigated his way through the people seating themselves. Her black hair was slicked into a bob, and she was wearing a string of freshwater pearls. The girl next to her was hanging on a man's arm, chatting happily, and Heero blinked, belatedly identifying Enny only because she was wearing the red dress he'd bought. Her shoulder-length hair was down, falling in soft auburn curls around her face. Jeet, on Hilde's other side, was accompanying an older woman. The three friends could pass for two socialites attended by their younger brother. Heero noted the changes in their appearance, but otherwise ignored them.
Duo left a note for Heero in his work locker. He'd seen Trowa when the man had accompanied several dancers down to the loading dock for a smoke break. The Heavyarms pilot didn't say much, playing his role as a stranger, but had accepted the palmed note with his usual stoic flare. When Duo had joined other staff to watch the dancers practice in an empty meeting room, Trowa's hair was pulled back in a ponytail, the hair standing out sharply from his head in a pinwheel. He'd read the note and understood. Trowa was in place and ready.
Day two, 10:00 am, standard time.
Conventions are too much work, Heero decided, grimacing as he pulled on his work shoes in the hotel locker room. His black uniform pants were slim, but stiff, and he bundled his black jeans into a ball and shoved them into his locker. The white shirt was pressed, its band collar standing straight against his neck. The sleeves were pristine, and he tried not to think about blood on snow.
12:00 pm, standard time.
All targets were present for lunch, and Heero satisfied his need for precision by naming each of them mentally as he helped bring out the luncheon specials to each table. Wine was poured for table three but Miyamura only drank the water. Replacement silverware delivered to the heavy-set Ross at table seventeen who kept dropping his fork. Salads were brought to table nine, with dressing on the side for Desir.
2:00 pm, standard time.
The convention hall was dressed down, and the linens were ripped from the tables to be replaced with new ones. Sixteen staff, including Duo and Heero, bustled in and out, preparing the large room for the evening's entertainment. Most of the attendees were in various meetings around the hotel, or were standing in the hallways gossiping during breaks. Heero kept his head down, forcing himself to focus supervising the flower arrangement placements, instead of fingering the slim headset and mike pickup in his pocket. He noticed a dark-skinned man in a hotel uniform delivering additional linens to the maid's closet. It was only after the man had left that Heero realized it had been Green.
3:00 pm, standard time.
Snacks were delivered to each of the meeting rooms. Heero passed Duo in the hallway, flirting with a young redhead that Heero was pretty sure was Suze. Shaking his head, he gritted his teeth at the involuntary assumption that he'd need to chastise Duo for leaving the hotel room registry until too late. Before he could throw a glare in his teammate's direction, Frank was sending him down to the kitchen for more bottles of the pinot noir for the Winchester meeting room.
5:00 pm, standard time.
The last preparations were being made for dinner, and the catering manager made a final sweep of the dining room before announcing the staff had out-done itself. Heero made his way to the kitchen, dropping off last-minute directions for the sous chefs on his way to the locker room. He was on the early schedule, like Duo. They passed each other in the hallway, but said nothing.
5:30 pm, standard time.
In the locker room, Heero kept his dress shirt on, crinkling his nose at the smell of the shirt he'd left in the locker. Slipping out of his dress pants, he pulled on the jeans and tied up his boots, wrapping the laces twice around the ankles for stability. The comm device went on his head, tucking around behind his ear, with the mike retracted into the brace. Heero tugged at his bangs, studying the effect in the locker room mirror, before determining the comm was as well hidden as it could be. He watched, impassive as his face settled into the old hard lines of wartime. He left the locker room, and went up to place the last of the charges around the arboretum.
6:00 pm, standard time.
Appetizers were being served. Heero made his way to the balcony, which would be closed off to guests until after dinner. The dancers were out, and the dark-haired man admired the modern dance, the spare movements. He had been expecting something garish, crass, but found himself getting lost in the acrobatic displays of the lean, taut bodies gracing the stage. A leg's extension, held for several minutes, the hand gestures delicate and strong. Heero wasn't sure which one was Trowa; the men's bodies all seemed so similar, even stripped down to only tights. Raw power in action, he thought, and leaned against the column as he turned on the set for the first check-in.
6:05 pm, standard time.
"Reporting in," Heero announced into his comm.
"Ditto," Hilde's voice came through. "In the ladies' room, though, so give me a minute."
"Did you have to tell us?" Duo's voice echoed strangely. "In place, seventh floor."
"I'm with stupid," Enny's cheerful voice announced. There was a muffled exclamation, and she could be heard giggling.
"At the loading dock," Jeet added. His voice wavered a little, and then regained its composure. "I know I'm early... sorry."
"I'll be right there," Heero told him. "Over and out."
He nudged the comm-mike by rubbing his chin against his shoulder until it was retracted fully but left the system connected. Ducking quietly through the staff door, he made his way down to the hotel's basement floor to let Jeet in. The kid would spend the next hour sitting in the laundry room, and Heero shook his head. He'd be more comfortable if the kid were back on L2, but as long as Jeet was there, they'd use him.
6:20 pm, standard time.
Heero was back in location on the balcony, watching the dancing from behind the large columns arching up to the three-story ceiling over the dining area. The lights weren't as low as he expected, but he had the target locations memorized from watching them enter. He'd also done some last-minute clandestine rearrangement of a few nameplates, to place all six targets within a shorter distance of each other.
"How you doing up there?" Hilde's voice came through as a whisper in Heero's ear.
"Fine," Heero replied curtly.
"Oh, chill, handsome, I can't see you," she retorted, and it was clear from her tone that she was wearing a smile.
"Keep it down, I'm being stealthy up here," Duo suddenly broke in with a soft laugh. "Blue hair, listen up, deliveries coming your way in a few."
"Ready, boss," the young man's voice came over the system.
"Incoming," Enny announced, and the mike picked up a strange swishing sound. A second later Jeet swore, then giggled under his breath.
"Sorry. All clear, looks like... what the fuck?" There was a clattering sound, then a muffled curse. "Geez, people, you could've warned me."
"Got another one coming your way in a few," Enny replied smartly. "Be ready."
Heero nodded; satisfied the schedule was going according to plan.
6:40 pm, standard time.
The dancers were off-stage, to a rousing applause, and dinner was being served. The lights had come up, but only by a fraction, and Heero watched, relieved. He needed the low light. Broad daylight levels would only make his job more difficult.
"Another set, coming down." Enny's voice broke into Heero's concentration.
"Ready down here," Jeet replied.
"Reporting in." Trowa's level tenor was met with a quiet laugh from Hilde.
Her mike had been on for some time, but picked up only ambient noise. The mike pickup wasn't extended, Heero thought. Given the babble of the crowd below him, it hadn't been a distraction.
"Find everything?" Enny asked Trowa.
"All where it belongs," he replied.
"Where I belong is eating some of that food," Duo cut in. "Instead -- damn this stupid thing." There was a sound of someone sighing against the mike pickup. "Okay. Enny?"
There was radio silence for several minutes, and Heero continued to wait.
6:50 pm, standard time.
Heero let himself into the maid's closet, and within seconds was kneeling by the duct. Pounding once in each corner with the heel of his hand, he pulled out the Kimber, cocked it, and shoved it into the back of his jeans under his shirt. Then he dragged out the sniper rifle, checked the ammunition, and slammed it home, cocking the rifle. Grabbing a tablecloth, he spread it over a rolling table, loaded up the extra magazines in his back pockets. He lay the rifle across the bottom shelf of the table and pushed it out of the closet.
6:55 pm, standard time.
"Okay, get ready for fireworks. We're almost done closing up shop," Duo announced abruptly.
"How much longer?" Trowa.
"Three more rooms."
"We've got company," Enny whispered. "I'm on it."
"I'm out of the way," Hilde broke in to say. "Found everything, too. Very nice."
"Compliment the chef later," Duo snapped. His voice was harsh, a low whisper.
"No more talking unless necessary from here on out," Heero ordered.
The comm link was silent in response.
7:00 pm, standard time.
The orchestra had begun playing, some fiery piece by a modern composer. The brass section was overpowering, and Heero thanked whoever designed the dirty acoustics in the dining room. Hopefully he'd be able to get at least four shots off before anyone registered the noise independent of the hits.
Heero knelt down by the balcony railing, pulled the rifle out from the table's lower shelf, lifted it up, and set the butt against his shoulder. He turned off the laser site, certain that the red dot would be too easily recognizable by any former military present in the gathering. Taking a deep breath, he centered himself and let instinct and training take over.
Table seven, third woman to the right. Scott.
The popping noise was barely audible above the orchestra's brassy clamor. The woman in the red dress slumped over. The Asian woman on her right turned, a puzzled look on her face.
Table six, two people seated side by side. Volkov. Desir.
Heero fired, adjusted his aim, and fired again.
The redheaded man fell backwards against his chair back. The red bloom staining his white shirt was clearly visible. The woman at his side twisted a little in her seat, falling to the side into the lap of the person next to her. Her hair was brown, but the white streak at her forehead shone in the candlelight.
Table nine, fifth man from the front. Miyamura.
The Asian man was in the middle of raising his wine glass to his lips, and it fell with a sparkling shatter. The woman next to him turned, froze, and then came to her feet with a high-pitched shriek.
"The crowd has caught on," Hilde announced, and her voice came through loud and clear. She'd just pulled the mike arm down. Heero distantly noted the sound of her gun being cocked. He ignored it.
Table eight, man at the far left. Ross.
The large blond man snapped bolt upright with the slam of the bullet into his chest, before his head slowly lolled to one side. The woman next to him began screaming, joining the rest of the crowd's panicked voices as the convention slowly caught on. Someone else at the table jumped up, shoving the woman to the side in a rush to get to the injured man.
Table eight, woman three seats over. Marlowe.
He was hit at the exact same instant.
The blonde woman slumped sideways in her chair. Heero registered the success even as his own chest exploded in pain. He stumbled to his feet, throwing himself behind the cement column as another gunshot ricocheted off the balcony. The high-pitched twang echoed sharply in his ears. More screams echoed through the large room. Somewhere, glass broke.
"I'm hit," he gasped, his entire body shuddering as his back slammed up against the column. "Left shoulder. Clavicle possibly broken."
"We're done up here," Duo reported.
"Incoming," Enny added. "Fuck, we've--"
A gunshot echoed through the comm link, followed by two louder shots in rapid succession. Heero put a hand to his ear, wincing at the volume, and waited. He could feel the blood pounding in his veins, dripping down his chest, filling the cup of his palm gripping the rifle.
"Fuck is right," Duo suddenly said, his voice cold but amused. "You got that?" The question was barely picked up by the mike.
"All mine," Enny replied softly. "Hang in there, buddy."
"Status," Heero barked.
"Nothing we can't handle," the Deathscythe pilot said. "You?"
"Stage one complete," Heero replied.
"On my way over," Trowa interrupted. "Meet me at the stairs."
"Covering you," Hilde told him, louder. Her mike was picking up a woman sobbing. "Where's the return fire coming from? Did you see?"
There was a third shot.
"Table eight," Heero told her.
Heero grimaced as he moved his left arm. He could use the handgun, but his accuracy in the low light was much better with the rifle. Its scope could compensate for the loss of accuracy due to his injured shoulder. The dark-haired man grunted as he instinctively ejected the magazine, then slammed it back into place. Four more rounds.
Another shot rang out. It hit the column behind him. Heero glanced both ways. The balcony was mostly open, but if he headed straight for the wall and hung a left, hugging the wall, he should be out of sight of anyone on the lower level. His shoulder was soaked in blood. His left hand slipped on the rifle, and he barely registered his left hand was covered in blood as well.
"On it," Hilde said, and gasped. "Shit."
A fourth shot hit the column, just above Heero's head. The cement chipped, breaking small pieces into his hair, and he silently cursed. The return fire was angling to the side. The person was coming closer, probably heading for the stairs. Before he could say anything, gunfire echoed through the room, but louder in his ear. Hilde had returned fire.
"Get out of there," the woman hissed. "I didn't get him. He's taken cover." She fired twice more with no delay between the shots, then cursed softly. "Too many people in the way," she reported louder.
"Moving," Heero answered, and focused on the wall seventy feet away. Below him, the crowd's roar had reached a frenetic pitch.
7:09 pm, standard time.
"Incoming," Duo broke in.
"Ready down here," Jeet responded. "Everything's packed."
"You have got to be fucking kidding--" Enny's voice was cut off with a sudden shout. Heero winced and bolted for the wall. A fifth shot hit the column behind him, the report loud against the sudden radio silence.
"All clear, boss," Jeet cried. His mike was picking up muffled sounds of a woman cursing a blue streak, and the boy laughed. "Come on down."
"Be right there," Duo replied. There was a thumping sound, and the mike picked up Duo's icy laughter. His voice was faint. He wasn't talking into the comm directly. "Okay, kid, you know what to do."
Heero hit the wall, grunted, and braced himself against the cool plaster surface. He hefted the rifle in his left hand, trying to get a better grip around the blood coating his palm. The butt was still cradled against his right elbow, and he brought himself upright with a concerted effort. Mission mode, he reminded himself. Feel the pain later.
"Almost there," Trowa said. "Hel, get out of here."
"No way," she replied, angry.
"Taking the stairs," Heero said, started down. He'd take the staff back stairs, but Trowa didn't have a way into the staff area. Heero damned the oversight of not forging a pass card for the Heavyarms pilot. His shirt was pasted to his body, and each step made the fabric shift against the wound.
"You go ahead," Duo's voice could be heard, faintly. "We'll be right after you."
"Got it," Jeet said.
7:11 pm, standard time.
Heero stepped off the bottom step. People were shoving each other to get to the exit doors, thirty feet away from him. He contemplated dropping the rifle, then saw the gun muzzle flare a split second before the report. Heero froze. A sixth shot hit the wall just in front of him, and he spun, bringing up the rifle.
Quatre was standing twenty feet away, his gun aimed point-blank at Heero.
"You shot my sister," the Sandrock pilot hissed. His Ruger 9mm was steady, braced with both hands as he took aim on Heero. Two men in suits flanked Quatre. Their guns were trained on Heero.
He took a heartbeat to swear. Preventers.
"Drop the gun," Quatre warned. "I only miss on purpose. I won't do it again."
Heero took another heartbeat to measure the three men, flexing his left hand around the AK-15's barrel. His right arm was bent a little at the elbow, ready to reach for his own handgun. He just needed a split second, but he wasn't going to get it. The crowd's panicked screaming faded into the background, and he slowly bent his legs, coming down on one knee as he gently placed the rifle on the floor.
"Push it away," the blond ordered.
Heero didn't take his eyes off Quatre, and gave the rifle a strong shove with his left hand. There was a splatter of blood on the marble floor from his movement. The gun skittered sideways to hit a planter at the bottom of the steps.
"Now get up," Quatre said, but he didn't motion with his gun. It remained steady, tracking Heero's movements.
"Drop your guns," a second voice suddenly interrupted. There was a click of a hammer coming down. Trowa was parallel to Quatre, his gun aimed at the blond diplomat.
One of the men swung his gun towards Trowa, startled. Heero twisted, leaping from his crouch and pulling the handgun from his jeans at the same time. He brought it up in a smooth one-handed action and fired twice. Quatre pivoted to face Trowa, and the Heavyarms pilot fired immediately. Quatre went down.
Heero's shots hit the first Preventer in the leg and the Preventer in the shoulder. Quatre was clutching at his stomach. He shouted something, but Heero didn't bother to listen, already thrusting himself to his feet as Trowa grabbed him.
"Can you move," Trowa asked, and Heero nodded. They headed for the door, Heero's left arm curled against his body. Behind him, Trowa ran nearly backwards, his gun aimed at the three men on the floor.
7:15 pm, standard time.
Hilde met them at the door, her right hand straight at her side, trying to mask the gun in the folds of her short dress. She blanched at the site of Heero's blood-soaked shirt but her expression hardened quickly. Trowa slung his coat over her shoulders, and she jumped slightly.
"Use it to hide the gun," he instructed her.
Hilde nodded, glancing over to Heero. "You okay?" Heero simply glared at her, and she turned to Trowa. "Your ride's waiting."
Trowa nodded and took a right down the main hallway. He'd changed after the dance into a suit and slacks, and the conservative clothes merged seamlessly with the rest of the panicking business people heading for the hotel's front doors.
"Where're the rest of us?" Hilde asked. Several more people shoved past them, and Heero gritted his teeth as several bumped into his injured shoulder.
"Take a left," he replied, and pointed. Hilde passed several people, while Heero took rear position. His gaze was fixed on the receding dining room as the three were swept along in the hotel's panic. A shudder rocked the building. The fire alarm kicked in, its claxon blaring in their ears.
"First charges going off," Hilde yelled into the mike.
"We're waiting for you," Duo's voice came through the mike, barely audible over the alarm sounds reverberating through the broad halls.
A woman stepped into the hallway ahead of them, her body braced against the people pushing past her, a gun in her hand.
"Freeze!" The woman took aim.
Heero turned at the shout, but his team leader was in the way.
The woman slumped back against the wall, the gun dropping from her hand. Slowly she slid down the wall as the two passed. Hilde spared a single glance in her direction.
"I shot Sally," Hilde announced flatly into the mike. "The place is crawling with Preventers."
"Let the dead bury the dead," Duo replied.
"Cops coming your way," Enny warned. "You stay there," she could be heard saying. "Not you two, the bonehead next to me."
"Enough," Heero barked. He shoved the gun inside the back of his jeans, and ducked his head as they came up to a uniformed man.
7:17 pm, standard time.
"Shit, another victim?" The hotel security guard shouted, trying to get their attention. "There're ambulances waiting. Go that way," he yelled, and Heero saw several people split off to the right to follow the man's order. Heero took cover under the confused crowd and grabbed Hilde by the hand, pulling her towards the restaurant.
Another explosion shook the building, and the people milling in the restaurant began to run for the exit doors. Hilde stayed behind Heero as cops and firemen burst into the restaurant to help people out. One of the officers approached them, and Hilde put her shoulder under Heero's arm.
"He was hit," she told the officer.
Before the man could respond, a gurney appeared. Heero didn't protest as several hands helped him lay down on it. His sight was narrowing, and he bit his lip as the blood loss started to impinge on his peripheral vision. Clenching his right hand in a fist, he nodded to whatever the emergency medical technician was saying. The next thing he knew, two EMTs were pushing the gurney as Hilde followed. He blinked, focusing on the ceiling as they moved through the kitchen to the staff elevator.
One of the EMTs slipped a pass card across the elevator system controls, granting them access, and the doors slid open. As soon as the gurney was pushed through, Heero sat up.
"Get me off this damn thing," he ordered, but firm hands pushed him back down.
A face came into Heero's sight, and he blinked slowly as the elevator came to a halt. The face grinned, a cruel expression, and the deep blue eyes stared at him levelly. The person was dressed in white, but when Heero turned his head, he could see red seeping through the uniform and soaking the other man's hip.
"Messy," Duo said, and grinned, pulling down the mike to speak into it directly. "How's the ride?"
"On our way," came the reply from Trowa. It was a little scratchy as he left the commlink's radius.
7:22 pm, standard time.
The doors slid open and Enny was gone with a flip of her red skirt. Heero could feel the gurney being pushed, and Duo was shouting to someone about more injured people being upstairs. The hotel shook again in rapid succession as the rest of the charges went off. The lights went dead, but the group continued to run down the staff hallway. A second later the generator kicked in, and the emergency lights turned the hallway red. Heero could see firemen and staff managers appearing as they passed. Duo yelled at all of them to get out of the way. Heero could hear Hilde sobbing. Her hand was on his uninjured shoulder as she helped push the cart.
"Move," Duo barked, and Heero was yanked from the gurney. Blinking, he stumbled into the back of the ambulance. Enny was in the driver's seat. "It's the pedal to the far right," he yelled.
Heero grunted and sank down on a side seat, holding his left arm close to his body. Across from him, Duo's face was pale, but his smile was fixed. He was stripping off his blood-soaked EMT shirt to reveal a black long-sleeved shirt underneath.
"Give me the all-clear," the pimp ordered.
"Doors closed," Hilde called. Her voice was remarkably calm for someone who'd been sobbing melodramatically a minute before, Heero thought distantly. He braced himself with his right arm as the ambulance pulled away from the loading dock. There was a pause, then the vehicle's alarms started up. Through the front window Heero could see red and blue light bouncing off the concrete pillions in the garage.
"Let me strap you in," Hilde told Heero. He leaned out of the way so she could pull the straps out from behind him, and glared at her when her hands strayed too near his injured shoulder. He turned his head to see Duo struggling to buckle himself in. Hilde was already wearing an EMT's shirt over her dress.
The ambulance came to a stop, and Heero craned his neck to see Enny lowering the window.
"You guys got here fast," a deep voice said.
"First on the scene," Enny replied, the barest hint of tension in her voice. If the officer noticed, he chalked it up to the young woman's next words. "Two Preventers."
"Oh, in that case," the man replied. Heero could see the man's hand waving them on past the barricade of police cars and fire trucks. People were shouting outside the vehicle, and the ambulance's movement was impeded for several seconds.
"Damn sightseers," Enny muttered, and shouted over her shoulder. "How are they?"
"Stable," Hilde replied. "Get us to the ship pronto."
Enny said something in the affirmative and the ambulance picked up speed. The siren was still screaming, and Heero pushed it out of his awareness. Heero closed his eyes as Hilde prodded his shoulder.
"Bullet's still in there," she told him, and repeated it louder for Enny's benefit.
"How's Day?" Enny yelled a warning as the ambulance took an abrupt corner.
Hilde looked up from her investigation of Duo's hip. "Skimmed, but deep. He'll need stitches."
7:30 pm, standard time.
A minute later Heero was being unstrapped. He shuddered at the cold plastic under his left hand. Too much blood loss, his mind registered, and he shook his head slightly. Across from him, Duo was also unbuckled, a gun in his hands as he watched the street behind them through the ambulance window. The vehicle rolled to a stop. Hilde had the back door open immediately. She'd stripped off the EMT shirt and put Trowa's coat back on. Her gun was tucked in the front pocket.
"We're at the back door for the shipping station," Hilde told them. "Focus, you two, we're not out of the woods yet."
Heero hit the ground running alongside Duo, Hilde ahead and Enny directly behind. There were four police officers at the main entrance fifty yards away. Heero tugged his gun out, holding it close against his stomach to make it less obvious. Duo's breathing was ragged, but he was grinning like a maniac.
"They're locking the doors," the thief called to Hilde. "Improvise!"
She nodded, and paused to snag Enny by the hand. The two women peeled off, aiming for the station's main office.
Duo turned to Heero, a cold smile on his face. "Come on, Soldier, can't let their work go to waste."
"You made it." Trowa's laconic voice came through the headset. "We're loaded. Get those doors unlocked."
"On it," Hilde snapped.
Heero and Duo put on a burst of speed, pure adrenaline, and came alongside the ship as it muscled its way forward without a station tug. The engines flared under the belly, and the back cargo hold was open. Duo leapt up, Heero right behind him. Both turned immediately, guns at the ready.
"Hurry, girls," Duo said. "Wouldn't be a party without you."
"Doors opening," Enny's voice replied. There was the sound of gunfire, and she cursed fluently. The Deathscythe pilot laughed. Heero scowled and kept his gun trained on the four police officers. The men were just beginning to realize something was happening in the station while they were busy checking people at the main entrance. "Hel, party favors?"
"All set," came the reply. "Move your ass!"
"We've got you," Duo yelled as the two women appeared, sprinting from the main office hand-in-hand. Their path to the ship was clear, but the lack of pedestrians meant no cover. One of the officers turned, shouting something inaudible. The ship lurched forward. Trowa was forcing the metal hulk out of its grooves and into the way of another ship, edging nearer to the takeoff chamber.
The first officer raised his gun, taking aim.
Hilde and Enny were eighty feet from the back of the ship, running full-speed.
Heero fired. The gun's report shattered the silence in his ears. The man went down, clutching his leg.
A second officer could faintly be heard to yell, and the third officer raised his gun.
Duo fired. The man fell backwards, knocking into the second officer.
The fourth officer fired.
Enny stumbled. Blood exploded from her side.
Duo returned fire. The officer doubled over.
Hilde yanked on Enny's arm, and the two women jumped. They nearly flew into the cargo hold due to the station's low grav, slamming against the back wall. Hilde instantly began trying to stand, imbalanced with one hand in her coat pocket. Heero reached up and punched his fist against the cargo door lock. Behind him Hilde came to her feet, one arm outstretched as she depressed the detonator she'd been carrying.
The station office exploded. Duo covered his face instinctively as shrapnel blew outwards. At the same moment the ship's cargo doors slid shut and locked.
"Get up here," Trowa shouted from the front.
The engines complained loudly and the ship jumped forward into the airlock chamber. Hilde glanced at the two pilots, and then at Enny. The pimp grimaced as she stood up, holding her side. Blood was pouring down the pimp's leg and pooling around the top of her boot.
"No rough sex for awhile," the woman cracked.
"I'm going up front," Hilde told them. "Sending Jeet back here."
Heero stayed where he was, slumped against the wall of the cargo hold, and looked over at the other man. Duo had crawled backwards to the wall, leaving a smear of blood from his hip as he moved. The gun was still in his hands, and his head was down between his raised knees. Hilde's feet pounded up the main hallway. Enny fell to her knees with a moan.
"Drop the gun, Day," she said quietly. There was a stifled gasp as she tried to sit back on her heels. "Drop it. I'm not coming any closer until you do."
A clatter made Heero raise his head, and he looked over to see Shinigami's smile.
"The bloodbath wasn't supposed to be ours," Duo muttered. Footsteps in the door made them each look up. Jeet was standing there, his face ashen in the ship's low light.
"Enny," he cried, falling against the doorframe as the ship burst forward. Heero could hear metallic crashing sounds as the ship forced its way through the airlock chamber doors. Jeet sat up, crawling over to the woman.
"Don't lose it on me, now," the young woman snapped. "Help Hito get to Trey's bunk. I'll get Day."
Jeet nodded, approaching Heero tentatively. The dark-haired man started to tuck his gun away, then thought better of it and left it on the floor. Grunting, he got to his feet, shaking off Jeet's help. Five steps and they were at the bunkroom door. Blindly Heero punched the door slide mechanism, and stumbled into the room.
The back of his head hit the pillow, and he bit back a groan as the muscles moved around the injury. Jeet was lifting his legs onto the bed. The room faded, then Heero opened his eyes to see a blond head leaning over him. For a second he was about to call a different name, then caught his slip at the last minute and merely glared.
"What time is it?" His voice sounded hoarse.
"Five after eight," Jeet replied. "You want something for the pain? Enny says we're gonna have to dig the bullet out."
8:05 pm, standard time, Heero thought. Fifty-nine days, two hours, eighteen minutes, and ten bullets since he'd arrived on L4.
"Just give me something to bite on," he told Jeet. "And warn me first."
"I'll do that," the young man whispered, his brown eyes wide. "But you can take the meds if you want them. We're in stealth mode. We're out, safe. Heading to L2 now."
Heero nodded, already fading back into unconsciousness.