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





Guangxi region, China


The water was cold and refreshing. Wufei splashed some more on his face, reveling in the tranquil moment. Unfortunately, there was no time to take a full bath; he’d have to do with this quick scrub. Wufei used the opportunity to rinse some of his clothes; the rest would have to wait until he got a chance to properly wash them. With just another day away from the border, he would care about luxuries later. For now, he traveled with a farmer who simply introduced himself as Han. Wufei hadn’t asked for more details, and Han hadn’t provided any. The man took great care of his horses, allowing the animals long periods of rest between the days of extensive trekking. The unpaved, barely maintained roads were hard to travel, and Wufei’s lower backside felt numb and bruised. He had lost track of the number of wooden carts he had hitched a ride on, changing his method of travel and his trajectory as to avoid any suspicion. Better to be safe than sorry. He had no idea about the whereabouts of his Gundam, but he knew from experience how fast it could travel. Wufei wrung out his clothes in the river and allowed himself a precious minute to just stand and wonder. Nature here was so beautiful, this rural environment a stark contrast to his former life as a high-tech skilled Gundam pilot. The thought of Nataku being controlled by the Zero System always soured his mood, so he steered his focus away. Soon, he’d be at the border and then he could cross to the Guangdong province and travel to Hong Kong. The big city posed a risk of course, but also opportunity; it would be easier to find a faster method of transportation and get himself en route to Europe, to try to find the other pilots.

“Moving on!” Han called out and Wufei left the riverbank, taking his wet clothes with him. He hung them over the edge of the wooden cart and shifted around to find a place that wouldn’t rattle and shake his body with every bump in the road. The horses pulled the cart and found a steady, slow rhythm. Wufei closed his eyes and focused on his breathing to meditate. As always, this took up all his concentration so he didn’t feel any physical discomfort from the ride anymore. It also took his worries away on the inexplicable physical tremors and seizures acting up every once in a while; he had the suspicion it had something to do with Zero, as it had started after his own experience with the malignant system. Lowering his heart rate and his breathing, he found himself that familiar, mental state of peace and tranquility. Somewhere, in the back of his mind he was still aware of his surroundings - as a trained Gundam pilot, he knew better than to close himself off entirely - and the weight of his katana, neatly wrapped into blankets, leaned against his knee. His laptop had been more difficult to conceal, but Wufei had managed to construct a backpack out of different pieces of fabric. Despite his state of mind, he couldn’t help but think back of the monastery. He was a scholar, first and foremost, and he could’ve easily spend the rest of his days there, studying ancient scriptures, debating philosophically at a level that only true masters would understand. But it wasn’t the answer to the current situation and he didn’t regret leaving the monastery. Zero would never stop. The time to take action had come. Waiting was for coward people, and no one would call Chang Wufei a coward. He heaved a sigh and woke himself up from the trance. It was getting late; he’d have to cross the border by nightfall anyway if Zero had left mobile suits patrolling.

Han halted the cart and pointed to the right. “I have to go that way. The border is to the left.”

Xiè xie,” Wufei thanked the farmer. He grabbed the roll with his hidden katana and flung the backpack over his shoulder as he jumped off of the cart. Watching the man go, Wufei turned to follow the path to the left. He was rather surprised to be met by people who walked into the opposite direction; away from the border, back into the rural landscape. Why were they moving away from Guangdong? Before a man with glasses could pass him, Wufei put his hand against the man’s upper arm, applying enough pressure to make him halt.

“Why are you walking into the opposite direction?” he asked. The man grinned at him.

“It’s safe! Don’t you know? The great dragon is gone!” Wufei stared at him in shock. The man interpreted his expression as disbelief, and continued: “It just got up and left! We all saw it leave! We can go back to our own homes now!”

He couldn’t believe it, indeed. Nataku… where had Zero send his Gundam to? The relief washing over him was great: the road to Hong Kong was open! Now that Nataku wasn’t patrolling the country anymore, traveling became a lot easier… but Wufei recognized the strategic impact of pulling such tremendous power away from a large country like China. It could only mean one thing: Zero had discovered a Gundam pilot and was deploying all suits and measures to capture the pilot in question. Wufei clenched his fists, his knuckles turning white. His body started to shake, and he quickly sat down at the side of the road. The man with the glasses looked quizzically at him but walked on, too ecstatic to return to his home to care about Wufei. It didn’t matter. He had to gather his wits. He had to control the tremors first. He wasn’t going to give in. He couldn’t give in. I’m going to find you all, I’m going to find you all, he kept repeating, but he failed to reassure himself.

After at least fifteen minutes, Wufei felt confident enough to get back up again. Slightly unbalanced, he forced himself to walk; one foot in front of the other, lather, rinse, and repeat. At this late hour, few travelers were on the road and he settled into a moderate pace. A group of people strolled in front of him, discussing where they could spend the night. Wufei frowned. One person stood out; despite huddled in formless garb and with a scarf wrapped around the head. He or she was too tall for a Chinese man or woman. He caught up with the group, keeping an eye on the stranger. The group was too invested in their discussion to notice Wufei, and the tall person didn’t speak. A gust of wind tugged at the scarf, and the stranger brought up a hand to tighten the fabric; a pale, feminine hand, no Asian skin tone or features at all. It was just a second before the hand was hidden again, but Wufei knew enough. He reached for the woman, tugging brusquely at the scarf, and as soon as she brought her hand back up, he grabbed her wrist. She was quick to react and Wufei all but smiled when he had to jump out of the way, lest he got himself punched in the jaw. This style of fighting was familiar to him. As the woman turned, Wufei ripped off the scarf, discarding the piece of fabric. He expected her to cover up her face, or hide behind her hands, but she didn’t. Instead, she stood up straight, fists balled, dropping into a fighting stance and showing no fear at all. They both gawked at each other, but Wufei was the first to find his voice again.

“Noin,” he said. She didn’t drop her stance for a second, examining from head to toe.

“Wufei,” she finally spoke, her voice neither relieved nor relaxed. “What are you doing here?”

“That is a question I should be asking you,” he answered.


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




Undisclosed medical facility, Northern Europe


“Here, have some. You look like you need it.”

“Thanks.” Sally accepted Anne-Frid’s offer of coffee and inhaled the rich, roasted scent of the hot drink. She sipped carefully as to not burn her tongue and smiled gratefully at her colleague. “This is really good stuff!”

“Better than that crap from the vending machine,” Anne-Frid said. “Real coffee beans are vastly superior. So, how have you been as of late?”

“Busy,” Sally said. “Another patient was brought in yesterday.”

“Ah yes, multiple fractures, right? I wonder what his special status is.”

“I know you’re curious,” Sally answered, keeping the sarcasm out of her voice, “but I don’t know either.” Anne-Frid did good work, but she was loud and sometimes obnoxious. Sally didn’t really trust her, her intuition telling her that no secret would be safe with Anne-Frid. Sally pressed the clipboard tighter to her chest. Ever since she had managed to get into the position of Quatre’s caretaker, she had been monitoring his medication very carefully. She had been truly astounded at the huge amounts of muscle relaxants, tranquilizers and sedatives that had to be administered. Tranquilizers and sedatives… for a comatose patient? The last week, Sally had taken the initiative to slowly but surely bring down the prescribed dosages. Nothing too rash, as she didn’t want to shock his body, and nothing that would cause any suspicion. Not yet. Not before she was convinced that Quatre could function on his own, not before he would wake up from his coma. And once he was back on his feet again, with his Maguanac Corp. serving him, they were going to kick Zero’s ass all over the planet. She steered her thoughts away, focusing on the conversation with Anne-Frid.

“Oh yes, I can’t deny my curious nature.” She laughed. “By the way, have you seen Akerson’s wife lately? She’s not looking very happy, lately.”

“I don’t know,” Sally answered truthfully. “It’s not like the doctor invites me to his home.”
Anne-Frid showed a triumphant smile. Sally widened her eyes, as she connected the dots.

“No! Don’t tell me…”

“Nothing happened, not yet,” Anne-Frid said and her smile turned into a devious grin. “Did you know that the good doctor has full electricity and water, running at all times? No limits for him, no restricted utilities. He has everything in his kitchen: coco, coffee, milk, butter - everything!”

“Zero assigns what provisions and utilities we get,” Sally said. “The system makes sure that this facility and some of its doctors, apparently, have everything they wanted.”

“It always gives me the creeps when you talk about the system like that,” Anne-Frid said, shivering for good measure. “You act like it knows everything.”

“But it does, that’s the truth,” Sally insisted. “How else would it know what to assign to someone in whatever place?”

“I guess a lot of people are working for Zero, just like we are?”

“We’re working for the patients.”

“Yeah, but the patients are here because Zero assigned them to be here. It decided to put them here because of their special needs, or special status or whatever. We’re running around to do its bidding.”

“True that.” Sally tried to keep the frustration out of her voice. It wasn’t going to help her if she was going to blow a gasket. In all her ignorance, Anne-Frid was right about one thing: Zero assigned the patients to be at this facility. And the biggest irony of it all, was that Zero kept its patients… its enemies?... safe as a baby. Quatre couldn’t have been at a safer place but this facility, where his needs were taken care of. But for what purpose? Why would Zero keep a Gundam pilot alive? Sally didn’t want to think about it, not now. She had chosen to focus on his recovery, any other issues or problems would have to wait… and with Anne-Frid distracting Akerson like this, her colleague was ‘helping’ her to boot. If the supervising doctor was less concentrated, he was probably not going to notice the changes in Quatre’s medication anytime soon. Anne-Frid finished the last of her coffee, keeping an eye on her.

“Suzanne, I know you judge me about this, but I don’t care. Like I said before, I don’t want to be afraid of Zero. I want to live my life like I want to, not cowering in fear!”

“And Akerson’s wife? Does she have anything to say in this?”

“She had her chance. It’s not my problem. I want hot baths and nice meals, and I don’t care if I have to get her out of my way.” Suddenly, she scrunched up her face in annoyance. “Hey, you! Are you eavesdropping or something?”

Sally looked over her shoulder, blaming herself for not paying attention to the sounds around her. One of the cleaners was standing behind them, leaning onto his cart.

“Sorry,” he spoke with a heavy accent. It wasn’t Auda, but Sally recognized him as one of the Maguanacs. This was her opportunity!

“Could you dispose of this for me?” She ripped off the top sheet of her clipboard and crumpled it up. The man took it from her, and chucked it into the waste bag attached to his cart. In just a second, their eyes met, and Sally knew that this piece of ‘garbage’ was going to be treated with the utmost care. After all, it was a comprehensive list of all of Quatre’s medication.

Anne-Frid shooed at him. “Go on! Go get to your cleaning!” She turned to Sally again. “I’m glad you don’t compete with me, Suzanne. Really! Akerson holds you in such high regard, he thinks you’re some kind of angel, or saint.”

Sally showed a wistful smile. The doctor was one of the least worries on her mind, she was only thinking of Quatre. Every society had it opportunists, that was for sure. Who was she to judge them? She would soon join the fight again, and then people like Anne-Frid would have to decide for themselves which side they would choose. She would always fight for peace and justice.


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



Brno, Czechoslovakia, Eastern Europe


“Aw man, it’s toast.”

“I can see that, Duo.” Trowa mirrored Duo’s amused grin as he popped the hood of Jaroslav’s automobile. The farmer hadn’t exaggerated when he said that it was old. “It’s a Skoda.”

“The type and model number has rusted off,” Duo pointed out. “And see? More rust.”

“The chassis and engine look solid,” Trowa murmured. “I’ve seen worse. I can fix this, but it’s going to take some time.”

“We’re not going anywhere for now,” Duo said. “I can help you.”

“Thanks.” Trowa appreciated Duo’s help. His fellow Gundam pilot had above average technical skills, but he wasn’t an advanced mechanic like Trowa himself. Still, he wouldn’t say no to his generous offer. “I think most of the work is going to be to get that rust off. I can’t estimate the state of the parts when they’re all rusty like this.”

“Well, like you said, the engine looks solid.” Duo rubbed his chin, not noticing the smears he left. He didn’t look prim and proper to begin with; he had swept the chimney this morning, much to Irena’s delight. Jaroslav was too old to be standing on rooftops and Duo was happy to help out, just like Trowa. They had cleaned out the gutters and repaired a few loose shingles on the roof; chores that were too much labor for Jaroslav at his age. Irena clucked after them like a mother hen; she knew very well that Duo and Trowa couldn’t replace her sons, but it gave her much joy to take care of them, cooking up a storm and mending clothes to actually fit their size.

Trowa rolled up his sleeves and touched the engine parts. “This is cracked,” he said out loud, not to anyone in particular. “This is ruptured. This looks fine.”

“Want me to make a list?” Duo asked. He leaned under the hood, next to Trowa, and his heavy braid with the black scarf woven into it, slipped over his shoulder. Trowa had no difficulties with Duo being so close, shoulder to shoulder. They had gone from acquaintances to friends to each other’s savior, or so he thought. Without Duo, he would wander around aimlessly, not knowing what to do. Being with Duo gave him direction; even though he was used to be alone and do things on his own, he was grateful that Duo was around, if only to talk to. Heh… and he used to be not very talkative himself, how was that for irony? But the world had changed, and he had changed. As for Duo… he never got to know him very well, until Zero happened. Their encounter on the Peacemillion, when all the Gundam pilots were together, had been too short to from a decent impression of each other. Besides, Trowa had the feeling that Duo was ‘with’ Heero anyway. Something between them, that was so solid and so natural, that everyone had accepted it immediately, without asking.

“Sure,” he said and uncapped the cooling system. It was so brittle that the cap cracked in his hand. “Shit.”

“Sure as shit,” Duo said and shook his head. “I don’t think you only need time, I think you need a miracle. Is it worth it?”

“What do you mean?”

“You know what you’re going to find… and what you’re not going to find in Brno,” Duo said. “I hate to say it to you, but you know it just as well.”

“I have to do this,” Trowa said. “I want to see it for myself.”

“Because of HeavyArms?”

“What would you do if it were Deathscythe?”

“The God of Death leaves no living thing behind,” Duo said. He leaned a little into Trowa. “We should go to the ruined city instead.”

He hadn’t talked about it in a while, so it almost came as a shock to Trowa to hear Duo mentioning the ruined city again. With more vehemence than he intended, he said: “It would really, really help us if you would know the name of the city, Duo. Or at least its location.”

“I know it when I see it,” Duo protested. Same old, same old. Trowa picked up a rag and pulled out the oil dipstick.

“Dry as a bone,” he muttered. Now he was feeling a little defeatist as well. He’d never have enough spare parts and the other equipment necessary to fix the car. Next to him, Duo started to whistle a non-descript tune as he wrote in a small, ragged notebook.

“Oil, gasoline…”

“Duo.”

“Yes?”

Trowa didn’t know why he was asking. “Do you ever think of him?”

Silence. Duo brought his hand with the pen up to his braid, his thumb caressing the black fabric. For a moment, Trowa thought Duo was going to rage at him, as his eyes narrowed and showed an angry expression, but then, all of the sudden, Duo put up his usual exuberant smile.

“The God of Death leaves no living thing behind,” he repeated. This time he hummed as he continued writing the spare parts down. Trowa didn’t know what to say. It wasn’t the first time that he asked himself what Zero had actually destroyed in Duo’s mind.


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





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