the_goldenpath: (Gundam Wing Fics - Pilot a Gundam)
[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




Piloting the Gundam was… overwhelmingly peaceful. It wasn’t his own suit, it wasn’t Wing Zero, but Altron would do for now. He doubted that Wufei would be upset that his beloved Nataku was piloted by someone else. Wufei was a warrior; he knew that in times of war, drastic measures were necessary. It wasn’t like you had everything under control in a war, and Zero was at war. The system had become sentient, self-aware, and Heero didn’t know how or why. It was imperative to find the other Gundam pilots or one of the five scientists, wherever they were. If they were still alive. Everyone had scattered as soon as the system had taken over, and Zero had disabled all communication grids and networks.

Heero knew it wasn’t going to be easy. By switching over to manual control, he had disconnected Nataku from Zero, but that didn’t mean it was free from Zero’s control. The system would notice the loss of the suit immediately and it would take care of the virus Heero had planted by writing an anti-virus program and destroying it. Zero would regain control again, and he didn’t know how much time he had left. Stop worrying about the system, he thought to himself. Focus on your priorities. He had to find allies. He couldn’t fight Zero, he needed help - that much was clear, even to him. He wasn’t adversary to allies. Duo. Trowa. Wufei. You have the nasty habit to forget about me. The voice in his head had been absent for so long that its sound startled Heero. What the hell? Get the fuck out of my mind!

Silence. He shook his head angrily. Whatever voice Zero had planted inside of him, he was strong enough to fight it off. That voice was just a delusion, a distraction. He checked the fuel gage. Nataku’s tanks weren’t full anymore, but he could make it across the Atlantic. Europe was his next goal; he was bound to find another Gundam pilot there. Heero allowed himself to relax, if only a little. Even for a Gundam, it would take a couple of hours to reach Europe, leaving him some time to think. He knew that Quatre was in a medical facility in a northern country, somewhere in Scandinavia. Crudely as it sounded, it meant that he could cross Quatre off of his list. He didn’t know his exact medical condition, but more than probably, Quatre wouldn’t be able to fight. Heero frowned. It had been months and as Zero controlled all communication networks and news feeds, which had left him deprived of any up-to-date information. He didn’t know the current situation of any of the Gundam pilots and he had to spend his time carefully.

Zero was growing more dangerous with every passing day, and he couldn’t waste precious time to search all over the world. However, going north was his best option. Sanq Kingdom. Relena. If she was smart, she’d flee to her homeland, even if it was in ruins… especially because it was in ruins. Zero wouldn’t search for her in a place devoid of any modern technology; the system would assume that she would head for any other European country. The Queen of the World was important, people would follow her everywhere. If she managed to rally up resistance forces… but knowing her, she would look for a peaceful solution. He almost snorted. When would she learn that nobody cared for peace, and certainly not a faceless, emotionless system? This anger… this disdain… he never felt that towards anyone. Hadn’t Dr. J. taught him the value of working together, as a team? Hadn’t the scientist told him that everyone has his or her qualities, and that he should use them..? Duo was a very good pilot. Quatre was an excellent strategist. Trowa’s infiltration and undercover work skills were impressive. Wufei’s devotion to the cause was outstanding. And Heero Yuy? He was the Perfect Soldier, there was no room for doubt in his heart.

“Why would I doubt myself?” he said out loud, his voice echoing strangely in the small cockpit. Why the anger, why the arrogance? Zero had changed something in him, ever since he started working with the system… and now that it had become sentient, it exerted some kind of influence on him that he almost couldn’t resist. The voice in his head. “Shut up shut UP!” he roared and he repeated it, louder even, “SHUT UP SHUT UP!” until he heard another sound, a high-pitched beeping, that clashed with his shouting. Dumbfounded for a moment, he wondered where the noise came from.

“The proximity alarm? Why…” The next second, he was rammed and Nataku was thrown off course. Fuck! The proximity alarm continued blaring and he pounded it with his fist, until the screeching dissolved into a morbid gurgling, before finally dying down. Heero checked the cameras. Mobile dolls. He gritted his teeth. What were mobile dolls doing this close to Sanq? He had to wonder about it later. Switching levers, he unfolded the Dragon Fangs and grabbed a mobile doll with each one, destroying them. He hurled the mangled suit towards the others, but they evaded it with ease.

The Dragon Fangs were too slow, he needed something quick to slice through the dolls. Heero activated the twin beam trident. He didn’t need to show any compassion or mercy with these unmanned suits, he didn’t have to worry about human casualties… his only worry was the mobile dolls’ AI. How much and how far had Zero upgraded it? There was no time. The mobile dolls grouped around him and went for an all-out, frontal attack. Swinging the trident, Heero slashed through the suits effortlessly, but groaned at the sight of all the dolls around him. Strength in numbers, he thought sarcastically to himself, as he reduced said numbers with every swing of Nataku’s weapon. He was unfazed by the explosions and the damage surrounding him; the Gundam sliced through the mobile dolls like a hot knife through butter, without taking any damage itself.

The ‘battle’ was soon over. So much for his fear that Zero had improved the dolls’ AI. They were literally just as brainless as ever before. It didn’t sit well with him. Zero was a very sophisticated system, he had to admit that. No way would it employ such a sloppy tactic. Heero steered Nataku in the direction the dolls had come from. The cameras didn’t pick up on any suspicious movements and a quick scan showed no more doll activity. He was too far from New Port City; perhaps Zero had stashed more dolls in the capital? Suddenly, the radar caught his attention, the instrument picking up on an underground building not ten miles from where he was now. Heero hesitated. According to the radar, the building was electronically protected; he would need a password to enter. That made him curious. As far as he knew, Sanq Kingdom shied away from technology like this, the country not showing interest in modern-day developments. It was another factor in their inevitable downfall, but on the other hand, it made the building stand out like a sore thumb. Not to mention, it was underground… someone was hiding something.

Or was it the other way around, and something was hiding someone? Could he have stumbled upon Zero’s secret hiding place - could he have found Quatre? His enthusiasm was curbed immediately. No, Quatre was comatose, and Zero would keep him at a medical facility to accommodate him. So far, the radar didn’t pick up on anything else but the building and the electronic gates. No dolls, no medical equipment, not even a generator. Whoever or whatever was down there, it was in the dark. Heero forced the Gundam to land and into a crouching position. Zero had eyes in the sky, but the system would already know he was here, due to his earlier battle with the mobile dolls. After opening the chest hatch, he rode the winch cable down to solid ground, taking his laptop with him. As soon as he touched the ground, his knees buckled. He’d been cooped up in the Gundam’s cockpit for hours and his muscles protested sorely. Heero spend precious minutes to stretch and flex, ending with a breathing exercise. Calm down and focus. He had been up and running ever since he went to check out the training facility, followed up by an explosion and a visit to the hospital. He should actually be in bed, resting… but he could rest when he was dead. He shouldered his laptop case and broke out in a jog, towards the underground building.


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



Hong Kong, Kowloon docks, China


She stood out tremendously, Lucrezia Noin was well aware of that. Not only for her height, but also for her features and complexion; she was taller than the average Chinese person and she wasn’t of Asian decent. However, not many paid attention to her in this busy crowd at the docks; she kept to herself, sitting on a bench with two duffle bags and a concealed laptop case next to her. She didn’t even bother to cover up her short-cropped hair or to disguise herself; the threat of the Gundam was gone, Zero had lost interest in this area. But why? She hated being useless. She was prone to action, to investigate, to do something, to keep herself busy… but she didn’t speak Chinese and so it was Wufei asking around if any captain was setting course to Europe anytime soon.

She heaved a sigh. How long had she been sitting here? The docks were in complete chaos; many people tried to flee the country despite the disappearance of Zero’s presence, and undoubtedly, they were offering an arm and a leg to get out. Who would say no to riches and jewels, in a situation like this? Many people profited from war, and she had long given up feeling abhorred by it. Footsteps alerted her of Wufei’s arrival and she looked up, hopefully. His facial expression was neutral. “How much money do you have?”

“Just a couple of dollars,” she answered. “No Euros.”

He tsk-ed.

“Why?”

“I can secure us passage to Europe,” he said, “but the man demands an exorbitant amount of money. I have very little to spare…”

“I’m sure he doesn’t take space credits,” Noin said, “and even so, I think my credit ran out the moment Zero seized control.”

“Cash only,” Wufei confirmed. “I will talk to the man again and see if there is any other way we can reach a compromise.”

“I can work on the ship,” Noin said. “I’ll even cook and clean, if it’s necessary.”

“Good to know.” She couldn’t fathom if he was being sarcastic or not, but he had already disappeared into the crowd again. She hadn’t said it out loud, but she was worried for Wufei. He didn’t sleep well, and he didn’t get enough to eat. Her stomach grumbled constantly and she tried to ignore the hunger pains. She was not going to mother-hen a Gundam pilot. But she needed him, in order to find Zechs, and if Wufei went down… so would she. Noin pulled at her coat, but it offered little protection against the wind. Sitting still made her body temperature drop and she wanted to get up and walk around a little. She had promised Wufei to look after their luggage and so she was stuck. Another hour went by before Wufei returned, looking relieved.

“You did it!” She got up from the bench.

“We have passage to Europe,” he confirmed. “Get our stuff, he is leaving shortly.”

Noin handed him the laptop case and his duffel bag. “What did he ask?”

“We have to work for it,” Wufei said curtly. “You will have to cook and clean, indeed.”

“I don’t care, as long as we get out of here.” She slung her duffel bag over her shoulder and looked at him quizzically. He shook his head.

“Do not worry, he did not ask for something he should not have. But we will have no money left at all, and he will probably work us to the bone.”

Noin grimaced. “We have no other choice. Let’s go.”

The cargo ship was in pretty good condition, much to Noin’s relief. The thought of having to travel on a rusty, outdated ship that could go Titanic any moment, had flashed through her mind. The captain welcomed them, his eyes traveling over Noin’s body as she approached, and he only averted them after a cold, hard glance from Wufei.

“You, engines,” he pointed at Wufei. With a grin, he said: “You, kitchen” and pointed at Noin.
She refrained from heaving a sigh. Deep down in her heart, she hoped that the man would try something, anything - it would give her a very legitimate reason to beat the crap out of him.

“We’ll depart shortly,” Wufei continued to translate the man’s words. “I need to take in some extra supplies with all these passengers. Go on board and report to Keung. He’ll show your accommodations.” The captain laughed as if he had told a good joke. Wufei’s translation ended in a disdainful tone of voice and he abruptly turned away from the captain. Noin understood him all too well. They both hated to be this dependent, they wanted to be in control instead of being dictated by the whims of other people. No other choice, no other choice. For Zechs, I’d cross the entire ocean in a dinghy. Strengthened, she boarded the ship along with Wufei. Other people were on deck; they had to be passengers, judging from their bewildered looks. How much had they paid?

“You two,” a fairly tall Chinese man beckoned them closer, “you work here?”

“We were told to report to Keung,” Wufei answered.

“That’s good! I’m Keung.” He showed a rather crooked smile. “What did the captain say?”

“You’d show us our accommodations,” Wufei said sourly.

“Sure. Come with me.” Keung went ahead and led them through a maze of narrow corridors, with more doors than Noin could keep track - or count - of. They ended up in a large cabin with row after row of bunk beds. No privacy, no comfort at all. “This is where you’ll stay,” Keung explained. “Don’t worry, you’ll be too tired to care much about your environment.”

“At least it’s clean,” Noin commented, and that was the only positive thing to be said. The mattresses were raggedy thin, the blankets were the size of a handkerchief and worn down to the threads. No light, no fresh air, and the unmistakable sound of heavy engines. She took a deep breath and picked out a bunk bed, at the far end of the cabin.

“Who else will be staying here?” Wufei asked. Keung shrugged.

“Anyone who has money or who can work for it. The original crew bailed when the Gundam was still around. Nasty thing.” He wasn’t prepared for Wufei’s intense glare and he mumbled: “This isn’t a luxury cruise. I’m not responsible for stuff getting stolen. Dump your things here and report on deck.” He turned around and left.

“I don’t care about my stuff,” Noin said. “It’s just clothes and some toiletries. What about your… stuff, Wufei?” She was hinting at the laptop, still covered by the blanket. He nodded tersely.

“I will take a walk around,” he said, “and find a safe hiding place. You can go back to Keung.”

“We can make it,” she spoke, heatedly. “We can do this. We’ve been through worse. We’ll find the others and we’ll stop this.”

He arched an eyebrow, as if he was surprised by her sudden outburst. “We will,” he finally said, as if he berated her for ever doubting him… or herself. He left with the laptop and Noin was alone, sitting on the lowest bunk bed. A metal spring poked through the mattress into her lower backside. This wasn’t going to be an easy ride. She shoved the duffel bag under the bed and straightened herself. At least she was on her way to Europe. One step in the right direction. Watch out, Zero. Your days are numbered.


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




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