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

Undisclosed medical facility, Northern Europe

Detaching herself from the crowd was more difficult then she thought. The nurses were in shock and clung to each other, gasping at the sight of the dead Anne-Frid, the perfect make-up on her face looking grotesque in the harsh lights, spilling from the surrounding buildings. A couple of women were crying, seeking consolation in each other’s arms. Sally wished she could cry as well, but no tears came. She had seen dead people before, victims of war, and the current strenuous circumstances had cut off any feelings of empathy. She would grieve for Anne-Frid later, when she could tear down the walls she had build around herself, to shield herself from situations like this. She had underestimated Akerson. She had never held him for a cold-hearted killer, and now she was at risk. Her eyes searched the crowd and Sally spotted one of the Maguanacs. Before she could gather his attention, Beth attached herself to her arm, her eyes wide, mouth agape.

“It’s Anne-Frid,” she said superfluously. “What could’ve happened? This is horrible!”

Sally had lost sight of Beth after dinner and she hadn’t reckoned on seeing her again in this commotion. The nurse was the last person in the world she wanted to deal with right now.

“We don’t know yet what happened,” Sally said, maintaining her calm exterior, even though it took serious effort. “We shouldn’t gawk at her like this. Someone should cover her.”

“Yes, you’re right.” Beth shook her head. “To think this happened at the facility! Such violence! We’re not safe here anymore!”

“Calm down,” Sally said, irritably. She wished she had kept the annoyed tone out of her voice, judging from Beth’s surprised expression. She had work to do, she had to think fast, and Beth was distracting her. Was this woman still latching on to her on purpose, or was she really scared? How much money had Akerson paid her? Finally, someone had the decency to cover up Anne-Frid’s body with a sheet. The doctors, among them the physician who had performed CPR, were discussing what to do. Sally stared at the pristine white sheet, barely covering the conspicuous outlines of a female body. It made her feel sick. She wondered if the system would be alerted. Zero couldn’t care less about a nurse. Anne-Frid Engman was a faceless, nameless entity, eliminated or not. Sally shivered.

“It’s cold, yes,” Beth mumbled. She could be referring to the low temperature or the chilly sight of the covered-up body. Sally had no time to waste. The local authorities would show up soon and then her chances of leaving this facility would be reduced to nil. A wave of panic traveled through her, and she gave herself a staunch reprimand to stay calm.

“Everyone, go back to your dorm,” one of the doctors spoke. “We’ve notified the police, they’ll be here soon. Please cooperate when they ask for your help. Now, go back inside!”

Muttering and mumbling, the crowd started to break up. To her dismay, Sally couldn’t find the Maguanac she previously spotted or anyone else of the Corp., not even Auda or Karim. Beth dangled from her arm, complaining about the cold, the current state of the world and how it was so dangerous for women to walk outside alone… Sally would’ve snorted at her, if her mind hadn’t been so occupied. She took her decision. Instead of walking back to her dorm, she went straight to the main building and used her blank keycard to gain entrance.

Beth followed her inside, chatting about how horrible everything was and that she probably wasn’t going to get any sleep tonight… Sally didn’t respond to the woman’s words. It didn’t take very long before she located a Maguanac and she approached him. They had been posing as a maintenance crew and he had a cleaning cart with him. It was time to drop the façade for these warriors, to shake off their cover and get out in the open.

“Tell Auda that we’re leaving tonight,” she said, brusquer than she intended. Her words had the desired effect. The man nodded and immediately abandoned his cart, hurrying away. Auda wasn’t going to be happy, but she was sure he had accounted for a hasty retreat and had his men preparing for it. Now it was her turn. Beth still followed her and didn’t even bother to hide her curiosity.

“Auda? Who’s Auda? I didn’t know you were such good friends with the cleaners. And ‘leaving tonight’? What’s going on, Suzanne?”

Again, Sally didn’t respond and used her keycard to open the door to the facility’s pharmacy. Mentally, she thanked Auda for the blank keycard. The distribution of all the medication was very strict and meticulously regulated; anyone gaining access to the pharmacy was registered and limited to a couple of visits a day.

“What are you doing?” Beth sounded impatient, not upset. Sally couldn’t believe the audacity of the woman, who had simply stepped inside the pharmacy along with her. She was fed up with her. Sally closed the door and turned around to face Beth.

“I’m not going to ask you how much Akerson is paying you to ‘spy’ on me,” she said. “I’m sure you’re a good person, somewhere, deep inside.”

Beth pursed her lips into a grotesque ‘o’, her eyes widened, only to narrow them at the last of Sally’s words.

“I don’t know you and I’m sorry to say, but I don’t care for you. Right now, you’re just in my way.” Before Beth could open her mouth and protest, Sally used her hand to hit her sharply at the side of her neck, right on the carotid sinus, striking the pressure point. The nurse had just enough time to look at her with a dumbfound expression before she fainted and crashed onto the floor. Sally didn’t feel sorry for not catching her.

Focusing on the task at hand, she grabbed herself a large bag and filled it up with extra medication she used for Quatre: the tranquilizers, IV bags and other paraphernalia. She couldn’t let him go cold turkey, not after the heavy doses of drugs he’d been on. There simply hadn’t been enough time to wane him off the medication properly. It would have to do for now, she couldn’t change the situation. Sally zipped the bag close, slung it over her shoulder, left the pharmacy and was almost run over by two nurses, flailing and screaming. Aghast, she watched the women disappear around the corner.

She ignored it for now and went in search for the Maguanacs. More nurses ran through the hallways, definitely panicked and upset. It confused her. Had she missed something important?

“Sally!” Out of the blue, Auda grabbed her at the upper arm, startling her. He grinned at her somewhat apologetically. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you like that.” He was nervous.

“What happened? What’s going on?”

“We…ah, spread some rumors about a killer being on the loose,” Auda answered. “We’ll use the panic and chaos as a distraction to disappear quietly. Police are on their way and we can’t use their interference. With this much turmoil going on, they can’t keep an eye on everything and they won’t have the time or the opportunity to pay attention to a patient being transferred.”

“Excellent plan.” Sally put up wide eyes when Auda handed her a bundle of clothes, which she recognized as her own.

“I wouldn’t advice going back to your dorm,” he said, dryly. “Akerson has put a couple of guys on sentry duty.”

“I understand.” Sally put her hand on the bundle of clothes and her fingers stumbled upon something solid between the folds of the fabric. Her experienced hands recognize the shape immediately: a gun. She showed him a wistful grimace. “Thank you. Give me three minutes to change and I’ll accompany you to Quatre’s room.”

“Two minutes,” he answered humorlessly. Sally gave him the bag with the medical supplies and she quickly shot into a broom closet. She changed out of her nurse scrubs into her Alliance uniform, the only clothes she took with her when she traveled towards the north, fleeing from Zero. The sturdy and good-quality clothes gave her a feeling of nostalgia, one fleeting moment. Dumping the scrubs on the floor, knowing that she’ll never get back into them, Sally exited the broom closet and hurried with Auda towards Quatre’s ward. Along the way, other Maguanacs joined them, faces dark and serious. They were on the warpath and no one was going to stop them.

“The police have arrived, but so far they haven’t been able to do much,” one said.

“There’s still a lot of panic and stress,” another added. “It’s such a tumult, they don’t know where to start!”

“Good. As long as everyone’s disorganized, we can get out of here. Everyone has to abandon their position,” Auda commanded, “and gather in the parking garage.”

They made their way up to the floor designed for the special patients. To Sally’s surprise - and relief - Quatre’s room was unsupervised. Either Akerson hadn’t thought of securing the ward,
rejecting the possibility that anyone would move the patient, or the entire facility was in such state of panic that it had simply slipped his mind. Sally hurried to the bed.

“I’m so sorry,” she apologized. “I wish we had more time, Quatre. Be strong. Please survive.”

“What needs to be done?” Auda asked her, his voice slightly trembling. He didn’t mind following her orders, accepting her superiority in medical knowledge. He wanted the best for Quatre, to make the transition as less traumatic as possible.

“Bring me a wheelchair and blankets,” she said. While Auda was taking care of it, she unhooked Quatre from the various support machines. He was strong enough to breathe on his own, but she was worried about the IV feeds. Carefully, very carefully, she removed everything belonging to the support systems and the monitoring devices and waited a couple of painstakingly long minutes before moving on, to make sure Quatre was still breathing. It was precious time ticking away, time that they didn’t have - but she couldn’t disconnect him and pull him out of the bed just like that, the shock would be too great.

“Come on, Master Quatre,” Auda mumbled while he moved the wheelchair next to the bed. “You can do this. You’re so strong. We need you, Master Quatre.”

“Careful,” Sally said, even though she knew Quatre couldn’t be safer than in the arms of a Maguanac. “Put one blanket into and over the wheelchair. We need to keep him warm and transport him as comfortable as possible. Which one of you is strong enough to lift him out of the bed?”

One Maguanac stepped forward, almost as big as Rashid. Following Sally’s directions, he lifted Quatre out of the bed while she kept her hand on the IV unit. “You,” she pointed to another Maguanac, “hold the IV bag up like this, and don’t squeeze it. Don’t change its position, not even for a millimeter.”

He nodded tersely and took the IV bag from her. As soon as Quatre was seated into the chair, she covered him with more blankets, tucking it around his feet, swaddling him like a baby while leaving his arms free, as to not disturb the IV lines.

“Hurry, hurry,” Auda rushed her. Sally supported Quatre’s neck with a pillow, folding it double for extra comfort. She put her hands on the handles of the wheelchair and took a deep breath.

“Here we go,” she said. “Look normal, people. Calm yet determined.” She received sincere nods in return and realized she might be the only one to have a panicked expression on her face. She took another deep breath and pushed the wheelchair forward. They left the room and entered the hallway. No one was to be seen. Briskly, she pushed the wheelchair towards the elevator. She’d been in precarious situations before. She could do this, together with the Maguanacs. The elevator arrived, empty, and they all got in.

“This is going too smoothly,” she mumbled.

“Don’t worry,” Auda said. “The hardest part has yet to come.” He pressed the button for the lowest floor, the parking garage, and as the elevator rode down, Sally checked up on Quatre.

“How’s he doing?”

“His temperature is okay,” she said. “There’s a heart monitor device on board of the ambulance… I take it you have secured one?” At Auda’s confirming gesture, she continued: “We’ll hook him up on it once we’re in a stable environment.” She didn’t ask where they would take Quatre, she trusted Auda with his - and her - life. The elevator came to a standstill and the doors opened. The Maguanacs spilled from the elevator, fanning out all over the parking garage. A little further down, was the ambulance. At Auda’s sign, the driver started the engine and the vehicle drove backwards at a very slow speed, stopping in front of the elevator. Sally shivered, it was pretty cold down here. Auda opened the back door of the ambulance and together, they transferred Quatre from the wheelchair to a gurney, lying him down gently. Sally made sure to keep him warm by wrapping the blankets around him.

Auda closed the door behind her. He was going to ride shotgun, trusting Sally to keep an eye on Quatre. Some noises, a few muffled words and suddenly, the ambulance sped forward. Sally checked Quatre’s temperature again; he was sweating. It had to be because of the sharp drop in temperature, from the heated ward to the cold elevator and parking garage. His eyes were open and stared at the ceiling… he had blinked a couple of times before and even moved his fingers, feeding Sally’s hope that he could return to normal, that waning him off the heavy medication was working out. But these movements were hardly noticeable and so far and few between that she sometimes wasn’t sure if she was imagining things or not. The ambulance came to a sudden standstill and she cursed under her breath.

“Police!” Sally heard a gruff voice. “What’s this all about?”

This was the moment she’d been dreading. It had gone too smoothly, after all. She could overhear Auda’s calm voice.

“We’re transferring a comatose patient to another facility,” he said. “He needs very special care. Every second we’re wasting here, is taking a toll on his health.”

“We’ve urged everyone to assemble in the mess hall,” the police officer spoke. “That goes for everyone. No one’s to leave the premises!”

“We’ll be back in twenty-five minutes,” Auda said. “Look, you can take down our names or whatever you want. But we have to move this patient, his life is at stake!”

“I’m sorry,” the cop genuinely sounded like he really regretted it, “but I have to follow orders. You all have to go to the mess hall.”

“We can’t leave the patient,” Auda protested. “We can’t wait a minute longer!”

“Get out of the ambulance,” the cop said. “Everybody out of the ambulance!” He put his hand on his gun holster. He walked around to the back of the ambulance and banged on the door. Sally had no choice but to get out, along with two other Maguanacs.

“What’s going on?” the cop gasped as soon as he saw her and she regretted having changed into her Alliance uniform earlier. He didn’t see a nurse, but a woman in military apparel with a gun holster and he immediately drew his own gun. It happened in a flash. Before she could respond, the two Maguanacs jumped at him and knocked him out. His gun clattered onto the ground and he slumped like a puppet whose strings had been cut.

“Move, move!” Auda yelled. “We have no time to waste!”

The ambulance peeled out of the parking garage. A metal grate had been lowered down to seal off the exit, but the ambulance rammed it; Sally shielded Quatre from the impact as the interior of the vehicle shook and objects flung around, bouncing off the walls. The ambulance picked up speed and Sally expected to hear police sirens any moment now. How soon would they react? Her breathing was erratic, the adrenaline racing through her veins. She calmed down as the distance between the ambulance and the facility became greater and blissful silence surrounded her. After thirty minutes, the ambulance halted. The two Maguanacs jumped up.

“What’s going on? Why are we stopping?” she asked.

“We’re moving Master Quatre to one of our own vehicles,” one of them answered. “The police will be looking for an ambulance, not for a truck. Come, help us!”

Sally wheeled Quatre on the gurney out of the ambulance, instructing the Maguanacs on how to keep the lines of the IV untangled. She was worried about the change in temperature again; he needed a place somewhere warm and stable, out of the chilly night wind.

“Hold on, Master Quatre!” The Maguanacs rolled the gurney towards a large, dark truck, hard to discern in this late hour, it was far after midnight. Despite the cover of night, Sally saw the driver and heaved a sigh of relief: it was Rashid. Her relief abruptly changed into horror when Auda and the Maguanacs started unlocking the back door.

“Wait,” Sally said. “We just can’t shove Quatre into a truck!”

“Do you really think this is just a truck?” Auda winked at her, even in this dire hour he found a moment to make a quip. “I told you before we needed time to prepare. Unfortunately it’s not nearly finished, but it’ll do. Come!”

When Sally hoisted herself into the truck, her jaw went slack. Inside was a fully and extremely well-equipped medical unit, perfectly sterile and hygienic. “This is perfect!” She exclaimed and couldn’t help but to grin wryly when she noticed that a lot of the equipment bore the ‘property of’ sign of the facility she had worked at. How much had they managed to smuggle out of the complex in their inconspicuous cleaning carts?

Sally felt better and more relaxed now. As soon as Quatre was installed and secured in the bed and hooked up on the appropriate monitoring devices, one of the Maguanacs handed her a prepackaged sandwich and a bottle of water which she accepted gratefully. Dinner had been hours ago and now that the excess adrenalin wore off, her body trembled ever so lightly. She guzzled the water and wolfed down the sandwich, feeling more and more relieved with every added kilometer of distance between her and the facility.

She felt like she could sleep for days. The responsibility of taking care of Quatre solely rested on her shoulders, as she was the only one with such profound medical knowledge. She was sure she could handle this responsibility, and she would dedicate the rest of her life to it, if necessary. The Maguanac Corp. would relive and rejuvenate after welcoming their Master in their midst. This was the start of the revolution against Zero. They were going to be the heart of the resistance, and it gave her strength. Sally leaned into Quatre to check up on him and as usual, his striking blue eyes caught her attention. She was just about to say something reassuring, when her breath hitched in her throat. His eyes were following her movements.


Previous chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 |10 |11 |12 |13 |14 |


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