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




Cottonwood, Arizona, United States


He splashed water onto his face. Heero didn’t bother to comb his unruly hair, it would be a waste of time. He couldn’t change anything about his appearance right now. He was alarmed by the ‘large mass approaching’, and he was convinced it was a Gundam. The explosion at the training facility had alerted Zero of his presence and now the entire town was in trouble. Heero opened the door of his room and took stock of his surroundings. The large hallway was empty, safe for a woman with a small child and a young man behind a cleaning cart, mopping the floor. He squinted his eyes against the bright tube lights. The ringing in his ears hadn’t completely stopped either, but he couldn’t afford the luxury of rest. Heero buttoned up the jacket of the orderly and stepped outside his room, closing the door behind him.

As casual as possible, he walked down the hall, avoiding eye contact with the woman, albeit the small child stared at him, wide-eyed. Heero ignored her and continued walking, meanwhile keeping an eye on the open doors of the patients’ rooms. He had no idea of time, but it wasn’t visiting hour; it was too quiet. Most of the rooms were occupied; some patients were watching TV at a low volume or asleep. A nurse exited a room just as he walked by; she didn’t spend any attention to him. He took the stairs, avoiding the ER. He didn’t want to run into doctor Patil. Another set of stairs, and Heero ended up in a modest parking garage under the hospital. He had to get back to the Little Daisy Motel to retrieve his laptop. He eyed the parked cars, looking for a simple, average model. Spotting a grey Volkswagen Passat, Heero walked up to the car and made sure that no one was in the vicinity. He didn’t have any tools with him, so he had to do it the old-fashioned way.

Thank you for all your training, doctor J., he thought sarcastically as he broke the window with just one punch. The older model Passat didn’t sport an alarm. Heero wasn’t that surprised. Cottonwood was a small, cozy town; people left the backdoor open in case the neighbor wanted to borrow a cup of sugar. No one ever would look for the Perfect Soldier in a sleepy town like this, and now he had blown his cover. It didn’t matter - he got the reaction he wanted. A Gundam was on its way and Zero would monitor its every move. Heero brushed away the glass on the driver’s seat before he got into the car. Hotwiring the engine didn’t take him longer then sixty seconds and he shifted the gears into reverse. He drove out of the parking garage - it didn’t even have a barrier gate arm - without a hitch. The small hospital had no mentionable security, no cameras, nobody asked him where he was going or what he was doing. It was his luck of course, and the trusting, naïve demeanor of this town’s people bought him time and the opportunity to escape effortlessly. Heero stepped on the gas.

He doubted that officer Lewis was tracking his whereabouts and had already discovered Heero living at the Little Daisy Motel. Still, Heero drove very carefully as to avoid any unwanted attention from other policemen. When he arrived at the motel, he was relieved to see the parking lot devoid of any police cars. Heero got out of the car and took a deep breath. The sudden realization hit him hard: he didn’t have the keys to his motel room! He groaned. How could he have forgotten to check for his personal belongings back at the hospital? Of course the nurse at the ER had stashed his stuff upon his arrival! He could punch himself in the face. When officer Lewis returned, and he would, he’d only have to look at Heero’s belongings - among them his cell phone, some money and the motel room key - to figure out where he lived. Stupid, stupid!! Not a moment ago he was convinced he had nothing to fear from the local police… and because of his stupidity, he had blown his cover… twice!

“Something wrong, Odin?”

He jerked his head into the direction of the girl’s voice. He forced himself to smile when he saw the motel owner’s daughter; the little Daisy it was named after. Only after sixteen years, there was nothing little about her and she looked at him almost predatorily, but her expression changed as soon as she noticed the bandages. “You’re injured!”

“Nothing much,” he grumpily answered. “I forgot my key.”

“Good thing that I always carry a skeleton key with me, then,” she said triumphantly. He pursed his lips as she didn’t show any intention to get it for him. “I want something in return.”

“Like what?” Heero asked gruffly. He wasn’t in the mood for games.

“There’s a town dance next Saturday,” she said. “I want you to take me to it.”

He refrained from snorting out loud. A town dance and she wanted him to take her to it? He didn’t have the time to negotiate with the girl, so he glared at her and said: “Fine.”

“Great!” She took a key out of her jacket pocket and threw him another smile as she walked towards the right motel room. After opening the door, she kept standing in his way. “Don’t
forget, next Saturday,” she said. “Eight o’clock sharp.”

“I’ll be there.” Heero wormed his way past her and shut the door right in her face, annoyed. He didn’t wait for her to leave; he immediately went to retrieve his laptop and other possessions from the hiding place in the ceiling. His secret stash contained passports, money, a gun and ammo - he took everything out and threw it all on the bed. His trusty duffle bag was under the rickety desk, so he pulled that one out as well, opened it and started packing. Heero rifled through his passports, all in name of Odin Lowe; the name of his adoptive father, the name he used as a cover.

The duffle bag held a few secret compartments and he divided the passports and money, just in case. He took a quick shower and changed clothes; the ragged bundle of his previous garments and the orderly’s jacket were scattered all over the floor. Heero stuck the gun in the waistband of his jeans and shrugged into a leather jacket. He finished packing and hoisted his laptop bag over his shoulder, wincing lightly. The explosion had shook and rattled his body and by all means, he should’ve stayed at the hospital; but with a Gundam on its way, so was his only opportunity to get out of here and go after Zero. His best option was to find the other pilots, so - Oh, but you’re so, so very cruel, Heero. He almost pulled out his gun. “You,” he grunted. Have you forgotten about me? He shook his head, sending his still damp bangs flying. “Get out of my head!” Too late for that now, sweetheart. Heero froze on the spot.

How was the voice in his head even capable of calling him ‘sweetheart’? How was the voice in his head even possible? After his encounter with the Zero System, he’d been hearing the voice every now and then, and it popped up at the most inconvenient moments possible. “What is it you want from me?” No answer, not that he expected any. He picked up the duffle bag and left his motel room. He had to focus on his next mission: identify and take over the Gundam that was rapidly approaching Cottonwood. His best option was to return to the destroyed training facility; Zero would send the Gundam to those coordinates to investigate. Heero had never hacked his way into any Gundam’s refined computer system before, but there was one thing that Zero overlooked in all its might: every Gundam had a manual override. He ‘only’ needed to get the chest hatch open, enter the cockpit and locate it. Heero almost shrugged. He’d been through worse. Dumping the duffle bag on the passenger’s seat, Heero walked to the other side of the car. He secured his precious laptop before getting into the Passat.

“Odin! Odin!” Daisy waved at him, but he ignored the girl. More so, he stepped on the gas pedal so hard that his foot almost slipped. The Passat sped forward and he peeled out of the parking lot, creating a large dust cloud in his wake.

He immediately cut back on the gas when he drove through town. He couldn’t afford being pulled over for a speeding ticket and so he kept himself to the limit. How much time had gone by? Had doctor Patil already discovered that he wasn’t in the hospital anymore? And if so, would she call Lewis? Soon, it wouldn’t matter. He would get his hands on a Gundam, preferably his own, and he would wage war against Zero and destroy the system single-handedly, other pilots or not. Gritting his teeth, Heero continued driving until he reached the training facility grounds - and whatever he had expected, it wasn’t a group of people with all kinds of equipment in a large circle, close to the debris of the facility. Heero parked the Passat out of sight and took both the duffle bag and the laptop bag with him. Voices drifted towards him.

“… the density isn’t that of a meteor,” a man said.

“NASA would’ve warned us,” another man said.

“NASA is nothing but a government controlled organization that…”

“Oh, spare me your conspiracy theories, Gary.” A woman sounded exasperated. Heero approached the group slowly, making sure no cops or any other law-enforcing people were present.

“Hey, I don’t know you,” a tall, slender man behind a miniature satellite dish said. “Welcome! Did you hear about it?”

“Sort of,” Heero said. “What kind of equipment are you running?”

“Purely amateur,” the man said, tugging at his glasses. “I’m Peter Henderson. I know everyone in Cottonwood. You are..?”

“A tourist,” Heero answered. “And you’re in danger. You all are. I recommend that you leave, right now.”

“Tourist, huh?” Henderson didn’t ask, but looked at Heero quizzically. “From what you tell me, you already know what it is?”

“It has nothing to do with what you’re researching, amateur or not.” Heero glanced at the equipment. Binoculars, telescopes, a whole bunch of fairly modern computers mounted on camping tables and even a Schmidt-Cassegrain, a combination of a reflector and refractor telescope. A generator provided the necessary electricity and Heero could see all kinds of software running on the computer screens. “Your equipment is pretty impressive for an amateur, but it’s the wrong field of science. For your sake, and your friends, pack up and leave.”

“I’m sorry.” Henderson shook his head. “I hardly take advice from a tourist, especially after living my entire life in Cottonwood. I know from experience that nothing like this has ever happened before, and I rather die than to miss out on this opportunity. This large mass…”

“I implore you to leave.” Heero took out his gun and pointed it at him. The group gasped collectively. “Don’t call the police,” he said, waving his gun from Henderson to the group and back again. “This is for your own benefit. The large mass is a twenty ton machine of war, not a meteor, not an asteroid, nothing astronomical. Get out of here. Now!”

Henderson put his hands up. “I don’t know what this is all about, but…”

I know!” Heero cocked the gun. “Get out of here before it’s too late!”

“I… I have to pack my stuff,” the man said, overwhelmed. The group murmured, unsure of what to do. Some got up, other remained sitting on the ground, confused.

“Machine of war?” the woman of the group repeated weakly.

“He’s got a gun,” a man whispered to her. He was about to say more, when one of the computers started beeping; a shrill, repetitive noise. Not soon after, another one beeped, followed by the third one: a symphony of shrill, blaring alarms. Heero arched an eyebrow.

“It’s… it’s a proximity alarm,” Henderson said, still with his hands in the air. “I programmed it to go off when the large mass is within five miles.”

A little over eight kilometers, Heero translated in his mind. It wouldn’t take much longer for the Gundam to arrive. He moved his arm up and fired in the air. The woman screamed. Henderson ducked.

“Go away! Run, you motherfuckers! RUN!”

The group dispersed, crying and screaming. Henderson was too shocked to actually move. Heero grabbed him at the collar. “Move! Run!”

“B-but my Schmidt,” he said, pointing at the telescope.

“You’ll have to buy a new one!” He forcefully yanked the man away from his equipment and punched him in an effort to get him going. However, Henderson clung to him and struggled to stay on his feet. Suddenly, he looked up, at the sky.

“Wait! Do you hear that? It’s…”

“I know what it is,” Heero said. He shivered again, the approaching Gundam sending chills down his spine. Adrenaline and anticipation ran through his body and he turned into the direction the familiar sound was coming from. He let go of Henderson, the man already forgotten. Heero just stood there until he could see the dark dot on the horizon. It rapidly increased in volume and size, the sound increasing.

“Amazing,” Henderson said, scrambling to get his video equipment up and running again.

“Stay down!” Heero pulled his laptop out of its bag and booted it up. Please don’t let it be HeavyArms. His special software needed some time to load and he looked up again. The sun was behind the Gundam, making it hard to distinguish which one it was, but as Heero took a closer look, he could make out the distinctive red shield on the right shoulder, the twin beam trident strapped to the back and the Dragon Fangs neatly folded.

“What in the world is that?” Henderson had no breath left.

“Nataku,” Heero said. “There you are, beautiful.”

“B-beautiful? What are you talking about?”

“We’re in an open field,” Heero said and tugged at the man once again. “Move, move!” They ran towards a huge pile of debris, Heero with his laptop and Henderson with a handheld camera he plucked from one of the camping tables at the last moment.

“What the hell is going on? Why do you know all of this?”

“Shut up,” Heero said, “and don’t move. The Gundam will pick up on any sound or movement.”

“Gundam?” Henderson pressed the camera to his chest. “I… I heard of them… they’re all over Europe, right?”

“Not all of them,” Heero muttered. The mainframe popped up on his screen and he started typing.

“What are you doing?”

“Silence!”

Henderson went silent, only to open his mouth again a few seconds later as Gundam 05 landed, stomping on the makeshift campsite, the equipment shattering under its foot like a twig being snapped in two. Before Henderson could cry out in shock and horror, Heero glared at him and he gaped like a fish out of water. The Gundam stood still, only its head moving from left to right, the outer cameras and sensors scouting the area. Heero typed frantically. His window of opportunity was extremely small, he had to work fast. Hacking into the mainframe and Nataku’s controls was extremely difficult, if not impossible. He only needed the chest hatch to open. Once he was in the cockpit, he could override the controls manually. There was no other option. He didn’t have any firepower to cripple the Gundam, he had no other equipment but his laptop to try and stop it.

“What are you doing?” Henderson asked again, and this time he whispered.

“Taking over the controls,” Heero bit at him.

“It’s a Gundam,” Henderson whispered, and twisted his torso, raising the video camera in an attempt to film.

“Stay back!” Heero needed both hands to work his laptop, entering code after code. Zero had been sloppy and hadn’t bothered to reinforce the existing passwords and security measures on the Gundam. Which left Heero to worry about what kind of system Wufei’s trainer and scientist, Master O., had implemented. The amount of data was massive and all his decryption programs ran full force. Heero’s eyes were glued to his laptop screen, but he couldn’t help but to pick up on other sounds.

“What’s happening?” he grumbled, keeping his voice low.

Henderson craned his neck. “It’s the others,” he said, “from the group.”

“Tell them to get lost!” Heero could understand the group’s curiosity, especially because Nataku was standing still. What was the Gundam doing? Heero couldn’t pick up on Zero’s orders, his laptop simply wasn’t equipped to deal with the system on top of the Gundam program and software. Basic training: the Gundam was scouting and scanning the area, relaying the info to Zero, and awaiting orders from the system. Heero had an inkling of what those orders could be. Attack on sight, don’t you think, Heero? “Shut UP!”

“I didn’t say anything!” Henderson looked offended.

“The group! Tell them to get lost!” Heero could hear their voices, awestruck from the sight of
the Gundam. He’d give the group credit for their courage to approach a Gundam, but not if it was going to cost them their lives.

“Guys! Hey, guys!” Henderson tried to keep his voice as low as possible. “It’s dangerous! Go away!”

“Are you mad? Look at it! It’s an alien! We- ”

“Fuck!” Heero grabbed his laptop and pulled Henderson back at the same moment Nataku deployed its right Dragon Fang, opening fire on his hiding place. The Gundam twisted its upper body into his direction and the intense heat scorched the debris. Henderson screamed in terror as he narrowly escaped being burned to a crisp. Heero managed to keep his laptop in an upright position, sweat streaming down his spine. Nataku moved its entire body now, taking a step into their direction. The group had scattered again, yelling and screaming. As if it had every time in the world, Nataku reached for the twin beam trident, pulled it out of its position and activated it. Henderson was still filming, even though his hand was shaking like a leaf.

“I’m going to die, I’m going to die, I’m going to die…”

Heero grunted. He wasn’t going to hack through the mainframe in time. One slash with the trident and he and Henderson were both dead. Another step. The only thing Gundam Altron had to do, was to move its arm forward. It couldn’t end like this. He was Heero Yuy, pilot 01, the Perfect Soldier. He had a solution for everything. He had mastered the Zero System first, before it became sentient. He knew the system. He had to beat it! One more step, but Nataku didn’t move. More so, it was lunging a little forward, but not thrusting the beam trident forward. Heero had to commend Henderson, still filming, though he doubted the quality of the recording as the man shook so hard that he could almost hear his bones rattle. In a strange way, Nataku seemed to… hesitate. Or was Zero hesitating? It dawned to him that the Gundam’s external cameras had picked up his image. Heero had probably been identified already, and Zero was weighing the pros and cons of killing him… or keeping him captive, or perhaps putting him in a coma, just like Quatre?

It was that brief hesitation that Heero needed. His program cracked the passwords and circumvented the original routing of the security system. With a small creak, Nataku’s lights went out and the beam trident powered down.

“Holy crap!” Henderson exclaimed. “What did you do?”

“No time,” Heero said gruffly, typing a few more commands before closing the laptop and stuffing it into its bag. He sped forward, to the Gundam, the chest hatch opening slowly. He had to get inside the cockpit before Zero seized control again. The virus he planted wouldn’t stop Zero for that long and the last thing Heero wanted was to be in a Zero controlled mobile suit. The winch came down and he grabbed it. Adrenaline pumped so hard through his veins that his breathing was labored. Henderson, still filming, came after him.

“You have to tell me your name!” He said, tilting his camera as Heero moved up with the winch. “This is the most exciting day of my life!”

“You almost got killed!” Heero hollered back. That was the last thing he said to the man down below. He stepped onto the chest hatch and all but flung his duffle bag and laptop bag inside, and himself into the chair. The hatch started to close again, it was a matter of mere seconds… but Heero was faster. Nataku didn’t disappoint. The layout of the cockpit, including the location of the manual override, was exactly the same as Wing’s. Heero reached for the levers and switched the Gundam to manual control, disconnecting it from Zero. He released the breath he was holding, relief washing over him.

He moved one of the levers and Nataku’s arm went up, exactly following his commands. For the first time in a very long time, Heero felt like he could cry from the sheer relief - and the excitement surging through him. Now he had a powerful weapon in his battle against Zero. “The tables are turned, you son of a bitch,” he said out loud and his voice was strained, dark, menacing. He wanted to give into his euphoria, going against Zero one-on-one, but the truth was… he didn’t know where the system was located. It didn’t have a base; it didn’t need a physical place to retreat to or to operate from. He was going to need the other pilots. He was going to need their help. Cackling maniacally, Heero pulled all levers and Nataku made a weird jump as if it needed a boost before taking off. The engines blasted at full force, sending Henderson and his group flying all over the terrain, the first clutching the camera as if it was his last lifeline.


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




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