the_goldenpath: (Gundam Wing Fics - Heero and Duo)
[personal profile] the_goldenpath
Title: The Totality of Zero
Fandom: Gundam Wing
Pairings: to be established Heero and Duo
Genre: AU, fic deviates from canon after episode 42
Warnings: some foul language, especially from Duo.
Summary: The ZERO system became sentient on July 27, AC 196. Its effects were disastrous to the five Gundam pilots, having experienced the system themselves. ZERO operates completely self-aware and is in command of the Gundams who are now on a random rampage, sending the current war into a bitter and harsh struggle for survival. Three Gundam pilots are alive and at large, one is presumed dead, and one is comatose. Earth and the Colonies are literally at the edge of total annihilation…

Key: ----------------- = scene change



Tokaj region, Hungary, Eastern Europe

Trowa studied the map meticulously. He folded the piece of paper on his lap and outlined the region they had been trekking through. With a pencil stump, he crossed out the areas they had covered. In the background, he heard Duo muttering to himself as he was preparing breakfast. Duo talked to himself a lot and Trowa had grown accustomed to it, the low, humming mumbling almost soothing, mantra-like.

Their search through Eastern Europe wasn’t over yet. It felt like they were on a carefree camping trip and they had all the time in the world to go wherever they wanted to go. But the truth was incredibly scary and harsh. Zero was destroying the world at a rapid speed, controlling the five Gundams as personal soldiers and harbingers of death and destruction. The devastation and damages they caused was more than the Alliance, OZ, or anyone else combined, sending entire nations into a spiral of annihilation. How many people had fled for their lives? How many cities had been burned down? Time was running out, and two Gundam pilots weren’t enough to stop Zero. The five of them could do it, if only Wufei, Heero, and Quatre were around.

Every time he thought of his friend, Trowa balled his hands into powerless fists. Kind, gentle and strong Quatre, the first victim of the Zero System. His mind had been torn apart, sending him. Trowa shivered. Had Zero already known by then how to manipulate the pilots? No, it had become self-aware after it had been tested out on all the five pilots… exactly the five pilots. He felt so helpless and weak. Quatre was the key to destroying the Zero System, but his whereabouts were unknown: he had simply disappeared, fallen off the face of the earth. Trowa had checked a lot of hospitals, but it became quickly clear to him that Quatre had been transferred to a secret facility. Not even Quatre’s personal army, the Manguanac Corps., had been able to locate him. He should’ve known, of course. Quatre was too precious, too valuable to be cared for in just any hospital. Maybe he, Trowa, should be grateful that Quatre was at a special facility. He was at least safe.

“Breakfast,” Duo announced and handed Trowa his plate. Scrambled eggs with a myriad of mushrooms, a slice of hard, whole-wheat bread and a small glob of butter.

“How much is left?” he asked.

Duo rummaged around in his backpack. “Some veggies,” he said. “Onions, carrots, a can of beans. Oh wait, three lonely potatoes… that was the last of our bread.”

“Okay.” Trowa started to eat. His body needed the energy and the nutrients; it wasn’t like anything tasted good to him. He couldn’t recall the last time he had eaten properly, a dinner fit for a king, something hot and tasty. Well, in these circumstances you couldn’t afford to be picky. Or whiny. Or dramatic. They had suffered through cold, heat, storms, and nights of utter silence, leaving only nightmares to plague their minds. Trowa was used to solitude, but since his… encounter with the Zero System, he was glad to be with someone who had experienced the same. Someone who knew what it was like to have been exposed to that ruthless experience, that traumatic event that had charred him and the rest of his fellow pilots for life. It was funny, ironic actually - Trowa had never spent much time with Duo before. Instead, he’d been with Heero after his infamous self-destruction, he had taken him in and cared for his wounds, all under the guise of the traveling circus. They had talked about the other pilots, and when Trowa stumbled upon Duo, sitting outside a church in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, he firmly had Heero’s opinion of Duo in his head: a loud-mouthed yet skilled pilot who was totally impulsive, flying by the seat of his pants, ill-prepared and yet well-respected for his ability to drive anything that had an engine. Trowa had heard the respect in Heero’s voice, but his own opinion about Duo had been judgmental; Trowa didn’t like people who were less than adequate prepared and who took a decision at the very last moment.

What irony, that Duo was the first pilot he found, right under the Alliance’s nose, who had set up an emergency HQ in Paris. No one recognized that haggard-looking beggar outside a destroyed church, a pitiful fool who shared his last bread with a handful of orphans. If it weren’t for his kindness towards the children that tipped Trowa off, it was the foot long braid, tucked inside his tattered sweater, and the heart-shaped face that still maintained some boyish youth to it, no matter how much it contradicted the look in his eyes. The look of someone who had seen and been through too much. Trowa’s own world had fallen apart; his careful preparations were worthless compared to Duo’s easy adaptation to the new situation. Now, Trowa knew why Duo had earned Heero’s respect so quickly: pilot 02 was the truest survivor amongst them all. The irony, that Trowa traveled with the one person he used to have the least interaction with, all through Europe in search for Quatre, was that Duo had proven to be very inventive and versatile. Trowa wondered, silently as he ate, how well Duo could’ve been a leader, perhaps the leader to guide humanity back to a safe world, if the Zero System hadn’t destroyed his mind.

“So, where are we going today?” Duo’s fork scratched over his plate. Trowa tapped on the paper map.

“North,” he explained, “we’re going up north.”

“That’s going to be even colder.” Duo plucked at his fingerless, woolen gloves. He didn’t
complain, he simply stated a fact.

“Yeah. Northern Europe wasn’t hit as hard as other parts of the world.”

“I wonder why.” Duo munched on a mushroom. Trowa had taught him which ones were edible. “Why there’s nothing in Northern that attracts Zero’s attention.”

“I don’t know.” Trowa stared at his empty plate. He had been wolfing down the scrambled eggs,
and felt a little ashamed.

“Sanq Kingdom is up north,” Duo said.

“It’s going to take us a while before we get there. I want to get out of this region; there are lots of vineyards up ahead, which don’t give us much protection from prying eyes.”

Zero controlled both the Gundams and the mobile doll forces, courtesy of the Romefeller Foundation. Before shutting down the network, Zero had absorbed every piece of information and intelligence from it, and had acted accordingly. The system sent out mobile doll troops for scouting and reconnaissance; if it picked up on any wayward Gundam pilots, it would send their own Gundams after them. The thought alone made Trowa angry. His HeavyArms controlled by such a… bastard of a system!

“Maybe we should check the colonies.”

“I don’t think Quatre is there.” Trowa’s voice became menacingly sharper. This discussion was on a seemingly endless repeat; either Duo suffered also from short-term memory loss or he was just an asshole in raking up wounded, bitter memories. He assumed the first. “We have to search in Europe, I just know.”

“All right.” This time, Duo was quickly satisfied. He could go on and on and ask questions like “But what if Quatre’s in his homeland?” “What if we’re searching on the wrong continent?” “Shouldn’t we be looking for Wufei instead?”, but this morning he seemed rather cheerful. He didn’t even mention his beloved ‘ruined city’ once. Collecting the empty plates, Duo started breaking up camp, his movements confident and strong. Trowa folded the map close and made sure that Duo didn’t see the right side of his face. He had only cried once or twice in his life, and it wasn’t because of his loss of eye sight. He had wanted to cry for Duo’s sake, but the tears simply hadn’t come. Not because he didn’t care for his friend. He just couldn’t. Duo wouldn’t want him to cry for him either.

------------------------------------------------


Guangxi region, China

“Thank you.” Chang Wufei didn’t bother to look up when the monk added a pile of papers on the wooden desk, the furniture almost buckling under the weight of the other piles.

“Will this be enough for you, Master Chang?” the monk asked.

“Is there more?” he asked in return. The elder man shook his head.

“No, this is all we could find… for now. We have to wait until our brothers’ return. This, and of course the general announcement that anyone with information about the… disappeared Gundam pilots should report to the local authorities, makes it hard for us to retrieve the current news.”

This time, Wufei did look up, his eyes locking with the elder man’s. “Do I need to fear for my safety?”

“Certainly not, master Chang,” the monk hurried to say. “Everyone thinks you’re a young scholar, reclusive and entirely devoted to his studies. Why else would you be looking at all those old newspapers?”

“I see.” Wufei forced the sudden adrenaline rush under control again. He reminded himself that he wasn’t afraid of being discovered, but of what was going to happen to the people around him when his status as Gundam pilot became known. These monks had nothing to do with modern technology, warfare or the Zero System; this monastery was a refuge, a silent peace of heaven compared to the violent, destroyed outside world. He focused his attention on the newspapers again. None brought the news he wanted to read. No news about Yuy, Maxwell or Barton… Wufei knew that Quatre Winner was incapacitated, and he thought it was of no use to rescue a comatose warrior. He didn’t have the knowledge or the facility to care for Winner, and as cruel as it sounded, he didn’t even have use for him in his current condition. By looking through all the newspapers, Wufei had hoped to find encoded messages or cryptic ads, anything that would indicate that his fellow comrades were still alive. The modern communication systems might be offline, a Gundam pilot didn’t depend on only one system. But what if he couldn’t find the others at all?

“Is there anything else I can help you with?”

“No.” Wufei immediately regretted the curt tone in his voice. “Thank you, you have already done so much,” he added quickly.

The monk nodded and left Wufei alone in the large reading room. The monastery’s library used to be impressive, but now half of the books were in miserable condition. The entire world was too busy surviving than to preserve the beauty of the arts and culture, Wufei mused. As a former scholar, it broke his heart to see the books decaying; Zero’s destructive path hadn’t reached this part of China yet, but still caused the population to flee and live in fear. Wufei steeled himself. He had work to do. He refused to slow down.

At least three of them had survived: himself, Maxwell and Barton. It was preposterous to believe the news that Yuy had died; right now, Wufei regarded him as ‘disappeared’. The guy had self-detonated once and survived; he would believe Yuy to be dead once he saw his corpse. The solution was simple: find one, find the rest. He’d come close to finding Barton once, when he had managed to track down the traveling circus the HeavyArms pilot used as his cover. Wufei had encountered a distant Catherine Bloom, who was too much in shock about the danger of the Zero System to talk in coherent sentences. He felt sorry for the girl. She was a strong woman, but these drastic circumstances called for drastic strength.

Zero’s continuous thirst for destruction had thrown Earth and the colonies back into the Stone Age. Communication was difficult and slow, power plants, factories and dwellings were demolished and entire nations were on the run. This was going to turn into an apocalyptic race for survival if Zero kept moving, annihilating everything it sensed or saw. Wufei laced his fingers together. Barton was gone, and no sign of Maxwell anywhere. He had to reluctantly admit that pilot 02 was much more resourceful and intelligent than he had initially thought. Wufei didn’t believe he was dead either; all of the pilots were far too smart to get themselves killed. But it had all happened so fast, they had scrambled for their lives, and now it was near impossible to get into touch. Zero was smart. Wufei would’ve done the same; kill all communications, make sure your enemies don’t team up together against you. He needed the team. For someone who had refused to work together for the longest time, only to be proven wrong and finally realizing the importance of teamwork, it was a scary thought. He was smart enough to realize that he couldn’t get nowhere without people supporting him. He couldn’t face Zero alone. With a small sigh, he started leafing through the news papers again, against all hopes. … a surge of pain went through his hand, and he hissed. His right hand had started to shake uncontrollably. He balled his fingers into a fist and stared at it, as if he could will the tremors away.

Zero had done something to him. That damned system had shaken him up horribly, mentally and physically - soon after his encounter with Zero, the tremors had started. Wufei concentrated and tapped into his own mind, forcing the tremors to stop. He was the last of his clan. He was the last of the Gundam pilots, if Lady Luck had abandoned him. He was a warrior, not a wimp. He had to get himself together, he had to get the rest of the pilots together. For the future. If there was any future left.

-----------------------------------




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