the_goldenpath: made by <lj user="dawnrune"> (Gundam Wing Fics - God of Death)
[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




Brno, Czechoslovakia, Eastern Europe

Trowa slammed the hood of the Skoda close. Wiping his hands off with a dirty rag, he looked over at Duo, sitting behind the steering wheel.

“Can I give it a try?” he asked.

“Sure,” Trowa said. Duo had cleaned all the pistons and valves meticulously, and Trowa had repaired the fuel injection and the thermostat. He’d had to improvise here and there, but thanks to his mechanical skills, he had succeeded. Duo turned the keys and after a few coughs and hiccups, the engine purred like brand new.

“Awesome!” Duo flashed an exuberant smile. “I knew we could fix it!”

Trowa couldn’t help it, he also smiled. It would’ve been a disaster if they had not been able to fix it, especially as every Gundam pilot was expected to handle his own repairs. The last few days they had worked continuously on the Skoda, a model so old that not even Jaroslav knew its origin.

“A neighbor once asked me if he could stall it in my shed,” he said at the dinner table. “Forty years later, the car’s still in my shed and he never offered me to pay for it! If you can get it to work, that’s nothing short but a miracle, you guys.”

Trowa was both relieved and pleased. Now they could drive to Brno, but more importantly, they could travel much faster. It was very tempting to stay here in this rural area where time seemed to stand still, to be far away from the violence and the oppression of the Zero system. They both knew better. Duo turned off the engine again. He was about to make a comment, when Jaroslav entered the large shed, having heard the car’s engine.

“Good job,” he said. “You certainly are handy!”

“I used to work as a mechanic,” Trowa said. It wasn’t a lie. “I can take a look at your old tractor, if you want me to.”

The man shook his head. “No, that won’t be necessary. I’m too old to work the lands, and besides, there’s no one I could sell my crops to. If you need more spare parts, you can take them.” He walked over to the corner of the shed. “You’re going to need this.” He pulled a large piece of cloth away, revealing a fuel storage tank. “I used it for the tractor, but now it’s just wasting away. Help yourself.”

Jaroslav showed them a bunch of empty jerry cans, and after a thorough inspection Trowa deemed at least five of them to be spill free. They filled up the tank of the Skoda and the jerry cans to the brim.

“Do you have enough left?” Duo asked. He didn’t like to mooch off others. Jaroslav merely shrugged.

“People used to come to our farm and buy potatoes, milk and eggs. Brno is gone. People are gone. We can provide for ourselves. Without our sons, it’s just the two of us…”

His voice trailed off quickly as Irena swooped into the shed, carrying a large basket. “I thought I heard the car,” she said. “I bring you clothes! Shoes! Socks! Everything to keep you warm. It’s going to be winter soon!”

“She’s right,” Jaroslav added. “We have exceptional warm weather for autumn but soon, the days will be colder. You’re going to travel north, right?”

“That’s our plan,” Duo said. “To Sanq Kingdom!”

Trowa didn’t mind that Duo ‘spoiled’ their plans to Jaroslav. Sanq Kingdom or what’s left of it, he thought, unable to keep a positive mind all the time. Even though Zero hadn’t hit the Scandinavian countries just as hard, it didn’t mean that there was peace and happiness all over the place. North was simply the best route they could think of, right now.

“You can’t leave before I had the chance to fill up the car with food,” Irena said.

“Please, you’ve already done so much for us.” Trowa declined, but to no avail. Irena didn’t even shake her head, she just smiled at him.

“I have potatoes and onions, and there are still some carrots left…oh, and some sausages…”

Duo didn’t protest either; it would be a waste of energy. Neither Jaroslav nor Irena didn’t want to hear any objection and they helped to prepare the car for the long trip north. The trunk of the Skoda held the jerry cans, along with some tools (“Just in case you need to repair something”), blankets and the basket with clothes, all snugly pressed together so the jerry cans wouldn’t be able to shift. Irena put large bags with food on the backseat and when she went back to the farm to get the last basket with potatoes, Jaroslav added a shotgun, hiding it from view when Irena returned.

“You know why and how,” the farmer said and slipped Trowa a box of shells when Irena wasn’t looking, wondering out loud where to put the tomatoes. Trowa thanked him, it was the only thing he could do. He only had a gun, carefully hidden from view, and Duo carried a set of knives on his body. Jaroslav’s weapon was more than intimidating enough to scare off thieves and robbers, but the enemy they had to face, had no physical body to shoot at. No one mentioned it, and when the final moment of saying goodbye arrived, no one thought of it. Irena wrapped her arms around Duo first, pressing him firmly against her.

“Should you meet our sons,” Irena said with a thick voice, “please tell them to come home.”

“We will,” Duo said. He returned the hug, sad to leave her. “We will.”

“Please take good care of yourself, miláček,” she said and took his long braid with the black scarf woven into it in her hand, her fingers touching the fabric. “You come back without this, all right? You come back with the one you love. No more grief.”

Duo didn’t confirm or deny. He went to say goodbye to Jaroslav, while Trowa was the next one to be hugged tightly.

“And you, pozůstalý,” Irena said, “you come back too, all right?”

“I’ll come back,” Trowa promised her. It hurt him physically to leave. He hadn’t wanted to, but he had attached himself to the elderly couple nonetheless; they had taken care of him and Duo with love and care, without expecting or asking for something in return. They had given so much, out of the goodness of their hearts and Trowa wished he could protect them and their farm; but if he really wanted to help them, he’d have to defeat Zero. Before everyone could get too emotional, Trowa got into the Skoda, the passenger’s seat. He knew how fond Duo was of driving and he didn’t trust his own eyesight. The road to Brno was unpaved and narrow, and the last thing they needed was a car accident. Duo started the engine. Trowa rolled down the window to wave at the elderly couple for as long as possible, until they and the farm disappeared out of sight.

“We’re never going to see them again, are we?” Duo asked.

“I’m not sure.” Trowa busied himself with a paper map of the region. “At least not before we’ve found the others, and not before we’ve dealt with Zero.”

“Right.” Duo hit the gas and the Skoda sped forward. The seats weren’t very comfortable; the fabric of the cushions was torn and rough and the rigid filling of the seats didn’t adapt to their postures. Neither one of them complained about sore muscles, though. The Skoda was the most luxurious mode of transportation since they started traveling together. Duo’s initial good mood soured and Trowa knew why. The question came not soon after.

“You really want to go there, don’t you?”

“Yes, Duo.” I want to see the destruction HeavyArms caused. “I really want to go there.”

“Quit torturing yourself.”

“What if it was Deathscythe?” Trowa felt a little disturbed when he saw a wolfish grin on Duo’s face. It disappeared as soon as it came.

“What if it was? I see death around me all the time. That’s why I believe in him.”

“Him?”

“Shinigami.” He didn’t elaborate and Trowa didn’t ask. Without any other traffic, there was no need to activate the turn signal and Duo steered to the right, taking the exit to Brno. Everyone had left the region after the appearance of the Gundam; Trowa felt sick to his stomach. Only five kilometers left and the closer they got, the sicker he felt. Duo was right, he should quit torturing himself: but Trowa knew he’d never forgive himself if he passed up on this macabre opportunity.

“Here we are,” Duo said. He reduced his speed and the Skoda rolled into the city, or rather, what was left of it. Trowa had seen destruction before, but this kind of destruction seemed to be exceptionally… thorough. Not one brick was left on top of another. Everything was broken, ruined, damaged beyond any repair. He didn’t realize he was holding his breath while he searched for bodies, and he only relaxed when he didn’t see any casualties. The citizens had managed to get out in time.

“Stop here,” he said. Duo stepped on the brakes and the Skoda halted on the town’s square. Trowa stepped out of the car. The air still carried the scent of charred wood, melted metal, gunpowder, the chemical afterburners of missiles, but not the scent of burned flesh. He shivered but continued to search until he found what he sought. Blankly, he stared at the familiar indentations on the ground: HeavyArms’ footsteps. He deduced that the Gundam hadn’t walked that far; after its landing, it had opened fire, devastating enough to lay waste to the entire city. Why? Zero had no reasons to do this, hadn’t it? Trowa startled when Duo’s shadow was cast over him. Why he kept forgetting that Duo was a master at stealth, was beyond him.

“This isn’t your fault, Trowa.”

“I know.”

“Come,” Duo said. “It’s 184 kilometers to Prague. If we leave now, we’ll be there by nightfall. I’m not sure if Prague has been hit, but we can at least try to find shelter for the night there, or do you want to sleep in the car?”

“No,” Trowa said. He stared at the large imprint, amazed by his strong emotions. It wasn’t his fault. Zero wasn’t his fault. If anything, the scientists, among them Doktor S., were responsible for building that infernal system. “We should leave indeed.”

Back in the car, Duo started the engine and drove back to where they had taken the exit. He seemed to be lost in thoughts, until he spoke up suddenly: “What did Irena call me, when we said goodbye? Mils.. Milan… miláček?”

Trowa smiled. “She called you ‘dear’, probably because you reminded her so much of her youngest son.”

“Ah, I see.” He was pleased with the answer. “What about you? What did she call you?”

Pozůstalý. “Survivor,” he answered. “She called me a survivor.”



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




Undisclosed medical facility, Northern Europe


“Suzanne?”

Sally Po turned around, plastering a pleasant smile on her face. She had no trouble recognizing his voice. “Dokter Akerson. How have you been? How was your holiday?”

“Fine, fine, I’m fine.” He returned the smile, albeit strained. “A moment, please? In my office.”

“Of course.” Sally kept her demeanor businesslike and neutral as other nurses were around and she didn’t want to have more gossip going around. She put her clipboard down and followed Akerson to his office, a large, luxurious room situated at the end of the hallway. He held the door open for her and she thanked him as she walked inside. Sally knew that this moment would come, ever since she had started to adjust Quatre’s medication. She was well prepared and kept her heartbeat perfectly under control; she had hoped that this moment wouldn’t have come this soon. Akerson walked past her to take a seat behind his impressive desk and motioned her to sit down as well.

“Suzanne, I’m very satisfied with your work ethics, your perseverance and your dedication,” he said. “Your excellent papers and recommendations are the reasons I assigned you to the care of Quatre Raberba Winner.”

At least he didn’t beat around the bush. Sally decided to play dumb for now and nodded dutifully. She had already scanned the room for object she could use as a weapon, in the worst case scenario. Taking out Akerson wouldn’t be a problem; the man lacked combat experience and she had the element of surprise. No one expected a nurse to have such a military background as she had. “Yes, doctor?”

“You’re very accurate and meticulous,” he continued. “I’m wondering why, since the last few days, the patient is… reacting differently to the medication.”

“That’s a good thing, isn’t it?” She made sure to look at him wide-eyed, as if she really didn’t understand what he was talking about. “He’s finally showing some signs of recovery!”

He didn’t respond. Sally tilted her head a little. Something was different. Something had happened. Akerson had shown compassion and consideration when she first met him, and he cared for all of his patients, going above and beyond his abilities. Now he looked… stressed, upset. This… change in personality alerted her. Sally kept her hands folded in her lap, creating the illusion that she was relaxed and at ease.

“You are giving him the prescribed doses, aren’t you?”

“Yes, doctor.” She mixed a little confusion into her voice. “Only a doctor can adjust the dose, that’s not up to me.”

“That’s not up to you, indeed.” Akerson grimaced. “Here’s my problem, Suzanne. I think you’re adjusting the doses on your own, despite what you just told me.”

Sally shook her head. “I have no authorization or any interest to do that. My care lies with the patients, not by fooling around with something as important as their medication.”

Akerson reached for the top left drawer, opened it and pulled out an EEG chart. He all but threw it at Sally. “Then explain to me why his brain functions have increased! How’s that possible with all the sedatives and tranquilizers he’s supposed to receive? He’s in a coma! He can’t wake up!”

“With all respect, doctor,” Sally said as she folded the EEG chart along with a recent CT scan together and put it back on the desk, “these results showed a very small, almost insignificant spike in brain activity. It could be a fluke. It doesn’t mean that-”

“I decide what it means!” Akerson slammed his hand on the desk. One of his family pictures fell over. “Even an insignificant spike is too much!”

“He’s a coma patient,” Sally said, unable to keep the icy tone out of her voice. She’d been so happy when she had read the results. After only two weeks of slightly decreasing the doses, Quatre was already responding. Who knew how quickly he could recover if he was taken off all those sedatives completely! Sally had known from the start that Quatre was overdosed on medication, but she had to bide her time before she was in a position to change it. She had to gain everyone’s trust, she had to establish her image of a dutiful, strict nurse. If anyone knew who she was, and if Akerson knew that the Maguanac Corps was on the premises, posing as the cleaning crew… her mind worked at top speed. Something was going on with the doctor. He was afraid and she could take a good guess at what was terrifying him. Zero had put him in control of this medical facility, and now he faced the drawback. Sally saw Akerson’s ‘holiday’ in a whole different light. Zero had scared the crap out of the doctor, but why?

As Akerson recovered from his outburst, Sally suddenly realized her mistake. The EEG chart and the CT scan. Medical equipment controlled by a computer. Of course! If Akerson knew about the results, so did Zero. How could she have been so stupid? It was Zero who had put Quatre in this medical facility and it wanted to keep Quatre here. Any improvement of the patient would alert the system, and it would blame Akerson for it. She tried to be a little more offensive. “Now that we’re discussing this patient, the doses are way too high anyway,” she said. “Even if he were to wake up from his coma, the amount of sedatives would put him right back into it! You can put an entire zoo under like that!”

“That’s how we want it.”

“Excuse me?”

“He’s in a coma, he stays in a coma.” Akerson tried to sound dangerous, but he failed to impress Sally. She reminded herself that she wasn’t a major of the Alliance anymore, but a simple, obedient nurse.

“I don’t understand.” The tone of her voice was meek. “We don’t have anything to fear. He’s a patient, he’s here under surveillance, and we have to make him better. We just can’t keep someone in a coma. He’s so young, he deserves to…”

“You wouldn’t understand.” Akerson slumped in his chair. “I… I have my orders.”

“Orders?” Sally pushed a little. “Who could possibly give orders to keep a person in a coma? You’re a doctor, you took an oath!”

“I know!” His voice was pained, but she couldn’t muster up any compassion for the doctor and the choices he had made, including all the luxury he enjoyed. “Quatre Raberba Winner’s situation is not supposed to change, at all costs. Don’t keep hope that he’ll ever wake up.”

“Hope,” Sally repeated. For whatever reason, that word stuck in her mind. It started to dawn to her. “He’s used as a symbol of hope,” she said. “Hope for humankind that a Gundam pilot will wake up and save them. You bastard!” It was out of her mouth before she could stop it.

Akerson straightened himself. “It’s probably for the best if I assigned you to other patients, Suzanne.”

She stared at him. “I don’t think so.”

He frowned. “What do you mean?”

“What would your wife say,” Sally moved her hand and tapped with her finger on the upside-down family picture on the desk, “if she knew about you and Anne-Frid?”

She took a risk, and it wasn’t Sally’s nature to resort to blackmail or extortion, but drastic times called for drastic measures. Judging from Akerson’s reaction, he paled visibly, she had hit the jackpot.

“You wouldn’t,” he said.

“I don’t want to,” Sally said. She honestly didn’t want to get involved in this kind of mess, but Quatre was more important. Now that Akerson had threatened to replace her, she had to put her plans faster into motion. “All I ask for is to keep taking care of Quatre.”

“You know him,” Akerson hissed. He leaned forward. “You know him! I should call security and have you removed!”

“But you won’t,” Sally said. She locked eyes with him. “No, I don’t know Quatre. I’m a trained nurse and I also took an oath. I won’t stand by idly and watch a patient be treated like this!”

Akerson averted his eyes. She didn’t know if he swallowed her lie about not knowing Quatre as he was too busy looking at her fingers, still tapping on the face-down picture. She withdrew her hand. The silence in the office was very uncomfortable. Subconsciously, she started to prepare herself for a fight. Akerson was weighing her knowledge about his relationship with Anne-Frid against his fear of Zero, and she figured that Zero would get the upper hand.

“Fine,” Akerson finally said, after a very long moment of silence. He still looked pale. “Don’t get too much into your head, though.”

“My interests lie with the patient.” Sally got up from her chair. She needed a shower. Her stomach was going up and down, but she had managed to save herself. “I don’t care what you think of me, or what I’m supposed to get into my head. I won’t stand by and watch a patient getting killed slowly because of whatever leverage a goddamn fucking system has over you.”

He looked more upset by her uncharacteristically swearing than by her words, but Sally turned around and left, slamming the door close behind her. There was no time to draw a breath of relief. She had to warn Auda immediately. They had to get Quatre the hell out of here.


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





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