Touch the World
- 26 -

The good part about working with the government's official sanction was that they didn't have to sneak around trying to acquire transportation somewhere.  Well aware of the deadlines they were facing, the government was more than happy to get them into the area with their own machines.  Unfortunately, they couldn't be deposited exactly where they needed to go.  The EUW would surely find it a bit suspicious if government choppers were landing in their backyard.

They acquired a car from the local authorities and drove into the lush woods surrounding the manor that had become the base of operations for the EUW.  Duo was at the wheel while Heero continued to communicate with Zechs back at their HQ.  "For the last time, we aren't waiting."

"They'll be there soon," Zechs said reasonably.  They hadn't been able to take the same transport because of their numbers and their equipment.  Plus, they had still been lodged at HQ, so they had different approach vector.

"Even if they were here, we wouldn't take them in with us."  He was, in fact, sort of hoping that the EUW would notice their approach and shoot them down before they ever got here.

"Heero, do you want them to hit the switch?"

"Why would they do that?"

"You're disobeying my direct order."

"For starters, we're volunteers, so we don't report to you by necessity.  We cannot be in violation of orders because we do not follow your orders.  Second, they would only get in our way."

"You need to learn to be a team player, Yuy."

There was something immensely amusing about that statement.  "You want us to infiltrate so the EUW won't have any cause to press their button.  You really think we can do that successfully with a bunch of guys chosen almost strictly for availability?  If you really need to make them useful, send them somewhere else to act as a decoy.  We can't be bothered to babysit these guys all day."

"They were picked for other skills as well."

The communicator's channel was also open Duo's side, so he felt free to chime in.  "Ooh, ooh!  I know!  They're supposed to shoot us if we get out of line, right?"

There was a brief silence on the other end of the line.   "They would not be acting on my orders if they do."

Admission enough, Heero thought.  It wasn't as if Zechs had any real authority in the government, either.  He was just another one of the rogue elements that the government had tried to neutralize, only he'd had the good fortune of being exiled.  "Seems sort of like overkill, don't you think?  What with the collars and all."

"Oh," Duo answered.  "Simple enough.  Maybe they're just supposed to press the button if we get out of line, and then finish the job themselves."

"How bothersome.  Zechs, what's considered 'out of line'?  Sneezing?"

"Refusing the assistance of the squad we're sending in.   For instance."

"Yeah, I think we got that part.  What else?"

Zechs sighed lightly.  "Yes, if you sneeze without their permission, they might get a little antsy.  They think you're as dangerous as the EUW threat, and they're going to treat you accordingly.  If they think you're out of line, they'll kill you and take their chances with the EUW.  They may be a new threat, but at least they don't seem willing to kill people yet."

"You kill a bunch of people in one little war," Duo complained.  "And suddenly you're a homicidal maniac.  Where's the love, man?"

Heero rolled his eyes.  "Who's in charge if we go with them?"

"Brooks, of course."

"Of course.  Look, if they're there, we'll go in with them.  But if they're late, well, we wouldn't want to endanger the world because of it.  There's a deadline closing in, you know.  We might have to hurry on without them."

Zechs would take what he could get.  "Then I'll try to cover your asses.  Zechs out."

The unit unfortunately arrived just minutes before they had been about to enter the manor, and they were forced to make nice and wait for the group as they assembled, and then proceeded to perform their own reconnaissance to determine what the two of them already knew.   Heero looked down and studied their shadows.  They were there, but were not yet very long.  The timing still seemed alright.

The scouts returned with the information that they had gathered.  The estate belonged to an heir of one of the pacifist members of Romafeller.  The doves' accidental death had apparently been enough to alter a personal philosophy or two, creating the tinder for the creation of a new 'pacifist' organization.

It seemed Dekim Barton was not the only person to have a military-grade bunker underneath his estate.  They decided on an entry through an evacuation tunnel, whose terminus came out in the hollow of a hill on the estate.  It was not the point of entry that Heero and Duo had chosen, and would likely take longer, but was necessary to accommodate the number of men on the small force.  The original plan had involved some nifty acrobatics, too, which was probably beyond the abilities of these laymen.

With Heero and Duo kept carefully corralled in the center of the troop under close observation, they made their way to the tunnel.   Duo twiddled his thumbs impatiently while the men fooled with the lock, figuring he could get it done in half the time, especially if he had Heero as his extra set of hands.  He drifted closer to the locked door, but two men with guns interposed themselves in his path and attempted to glare at him menacingly.  He rolled his eyes and let them be.  It was their government that was going to get blown up, after all.

They got in.  The tunnel itself wasn't as long as it might have been.  After half a kilometer of walking in a downward direction, they reached another door, and again they waited while two of the men worked on unlocking it, first disabling the alerts set into the door and then focusing on the locking mechanisms themselves.  Once they got it cracked, they threaded a scanner through to the other side to make sure the coast was clear.  It was.

Judging from their position underground, they started their hike back towards the main complex.  The lower corridors of the bunker were unoccupied, as they had expected.  The guards would no doubt be kept close to the top personnel.  The militant pacifist forces were not proponents of large armies.  That much they kept to the disarmament ideas of pacifism.  Armies were made to do war upon others.  Individuals, however, had every right to protect themselves against others, and the government had the responsibility of protecting its people from largescale threats.  Perhaps if everyone were similarly armed, they could count on the folly of mutually assured destruction to keep all of the powers from using their weaponry on each other.

When they got to the upper regions of the underground base, they found more signs of technology and men.  Sneaking through the corridors became more than simply walking quietly.  A man ran point and scanned the passageways in front of them, making sure they were clear before they proceeded.  When they weren't, they had to find some side passage to duck down or some room to hide out in until the threat of detection had passed.

There was something a little wrong about having all the passages cleared out for them, Duo thought.  How boring.  It reduced this whole sneaking business to something more like a stroll when all he had to do was stop and go on someone else's orders.  His attention wandered, but finally snapped back into place when the commander gathered them all in an empty hangar for an update.

"Ahead are the main ops facilities, just through that last door.  We're going to find their command center, and then we're going to take them out.  Harper, Chou, Chatsworth.  Man the scans.  Harry, Derning, Dellenkamp, at the fore.  Bales, guard the rear."  He didn't pause when Duo cleared his throat.  "North, ready with the secondary fire."  Duo cleared his throat more loudly, and Brooks frowned.  "You two.  Just stay down and don't get in our way."

"Well, if you're going to be that way about it, why don't we just stay here?"

The chief scowled even harder.  "You'll stay where we can keep an eye on you.  I don't trust you."

"Blah blah.  What are we here for then?"

Brooks got in his face.  "Look.  You two are here because some nitwit in the government thought it would be a good idea to let you freaks out, but I will not let you botch this, do you hear?  This is too important to leave in the hands of broken psychopaths."

"Ooh.  Psychopaths."  Duo glanced amusedly at Heero.  "I think that's a step above psychotic.  What do you think?"

"I think you shouldn't prove his point," Heero advised softly.

Brooks turned away from them with a sneer and ordered his men out.  The two pilots followed obediently in their midst, though Heero nudged Duo in his side.  "Stop that," he whispered, watching Duo's fingers playing with the ring of a flash bomb attached to his vest.

Duo just smirked and continued along.

The door in their path was dealt with as all the other doors were.  Duo amused himself by writing up a mental critique of the two-person team's performance.  They weren't bad, as these things went, but they were entirely too by the book.  Caution was one thing, but unnecessarily thorough checks of things that could be determined by sight or touch was slowing them down.  He glanced at his watch.  They were still doing alright with time.  Luckily, it was summertime.  Sunset came later these days.

They entered a crossroads of sorts.  Four doors exited the large commons room.  The buzz of a monitor running a news broadcast on mute came from one wall.  They paused to determine which doorway to take.

A door swished open behind them, and they all turned, drawing their weapons and ducking for cover, but no one shouted out an alert.  No footsteps proceeded through the room.  Surely the newcomer had noticed them?

Duo took a peek around the sofa he had hidden behind and saw no one there.  Across the room, he saw Harper do the same, scanning the area furiously with one of his devices.  After five seconds, he sent out the all-clear, and others of their force began to emerge.  Heero's hand on Duo's shoulder warned caution.  Doors didn't just open and close by themselves.

They inspected the room carefully as the others decided on their path, creeping around the perimeter to inspect all the places hidden from their line of sight.  Ironically, what they were searching for was in the middle of the room, high up near the ceiling, where it would blend in with the metal paneling.

Heero saw it first and pulled out his gun in a smooth line of motion, shooting as soon as his target was in his sights.  For the infiltration, both he and Duo had managed to wheedle silencers off of HQ's small weapons depot, but the distinctive psssftt of the weapon's fire was still loud enough to be heard by a squad of men already on high alert.  Weapons were drawn again, this time at Heero, and they were halfway out with angry shouts bubbling up in throats when his target sparked, fizzled, and fell to the ground with a clatter.

He and Duo ignored the weapons pointed at them as they moved quickly to the center of the room to inspect what had just been shot down.  Chou frowned and hurried over as well.  "Defense droid.  It will have sent out an alert.  More will be on the way."

"Defense droid?" North muttered.  "What the hell's that?"

"They're an auto-defense system built on mobile doll technology.  Been around for a few years, but only recently has the AI gotten good enough for practical deployment.  They can act as sentries and patrols, and are equipped with weapons capabilities.  They know how to hunt and destroy.  We need to get out of here."

Brooks ordered the obvious.  "Move out.  Door number two."

Half of their troop was through the specified door when Derning swore and stopped the party.  "Two of them heading this way."

"Take them out," Brooks ordered, readying his weapon.   Derning fired at one of them, but missed.  The droid returned fire with far higher accuracy, and Derning fell.

"Shit!" Harrison cried, pushing the men back behind him as he targeted the droid. It took three shots, but he got the floating sphere.  It bobbed for a few seconds as its engines failed, and then crashed to the floor.

They ducked as its comrade made retaliatory strikes, pushing them back to the commons room while they tried to take the droid out.  Bales led the way back, rushing for cover with a curse.   "Shit, there's three more in here!"

They were soon joined by another set of three, entering through one of the other doors.  Two more pushed them out of the corridor they had been trying to traverse until the men were taking cover in various positions around the common room, trying to take out the droids without being shot in the process.  North never made it back into the room.

Chou had been right; the AI system of the droids had improved quite notably over the years, allowing the defense systems to coordinate their attack, running simple patterns to lay down cover fire while one of them floated around back to take them out.  Chatsworth screamed out in pain as one of them got him.  Dellenkamp was soon to follow.

Angered, Harrison made a hasty decision, despite his CO's shouted orders that they all stay down, and soon he was writhing in pain on the floor.  The droids deemed him no longer a threat and moved on.

Duo had taken out two very lethal mobile dolls programmed with the data of two Gundam pilots.  The dinky little AI of these automated defenses was nothing.  He calmly bided his time behind his sofa, waiting for the right point in their pattern when they were switching states, and then broke cover, taking out two of them with high precision aim.  As the droids spent a few moments in transition to compensate for the hole in their defense grid, Heero destroyed one of them and damaged a second.  Brooks, hoping the droids would be concentrating their efforts on the two pilots, managed to damage another.  Also taking advantage of the aggressive assault, Bales shot out one more, though he took a shot to his side in the process.  Harper was flushed from his position with a startled yelp and scrambled to another piece of furniture, barely managing to keep his skin intact.

Chou flipped through his pockets and came up with a solution.  "Sir!" he called out to his CO.  The auto-defense droids did not come equipped with voice recognition.  "I've got a chaff grenade."

Brooks risked a peek around his table to evaluate the situation.  "What effect?"

"Maybe sixty percent?"

"Good enough.  Alright, twenty seconds to door number two.  Go!"

Chou popped the lid and lobbed the grenade, spreading EM chaff through the area.  It wasn't strong enough to completely confuse the droids, but it was sufficient to throw off their sensors and their aim as the men ran towards the door they had originally planned on.  Harper took a glancing hit as he helped Bales escape, encouraging them not to linger to eliminate the remaining droids.

Brooks huffed in relief as the door closed behind them.   Heero took the opportunity to make sure it wouldn't be opening any time soon by crossing some of the wires in the door's panel.  "We should get out of here.  Men will be here soon."

"Dammit, I know that," Brooks snapped, his attention coming away from North's body still sprawled in their path.  He took another deep breath to regather his thoughts.  "Chou, good job.   Harper, Bales, how are you doing?"

"Mobile, sir," Bales answered, wincing.  Harper had torn open an emergency binding and was tying it around his side.

"It'll have to do.  Let's get moving."

They kept walking, passing into a more populated area of the base.  A patrol passed them by as all six of them huddled inside a small utility closet.  Harper's hand was on the knob to leave just as a door across from them opened.  There was the crackle of a comm unit being activated outside.

"Terrell," a gruff voice answered.

The comm crackled again.  "Sir.  We have four intruders down in Commons two-east.  Four droids remaining."

"Four, eh?"  They held their breaths, hoping the man would conclude that no one could possibly have survived with four droids remaining active.  "Inform the boss.  And Spieler, too, while you're at it.  There may still be intruders in the base.  And dammit, try and figure out how they got in."

"Yes, sir!"

Terrell spoke to another man beside him.  "We need to tighten security.  Split the forces between the upstairs and B-level.  Keep a backup squad in Commons two-north.  If there's anyone still here, they'll go for one or the other.  We need reinforcements ready to support whoever gets lucky."

"Yes, sir."

One of the men moved out while Terrell went back into the room across the hall.  It seemed to be a security room of some sort.  With a first cautious peek, the squad filed out of the utility closet and headed farther in their intended direction before stopping for a whispered conference.

"Upstairs and B-level," Brooks murmured.  "The 'boss' must be in one place.  What would be in the other?  Ops?   Weapon control?   We have," he checked his watch, "ninety minutes.  When sundown hits, they'll probably want to gather in the weapons room.  Their threat will be much more plausible if they hit the buttons themselves.  We should attack while their forces are still separated.  So let's say we've got an hour to finish this."

"Where to, sir?" Harper asked.

Brooks paused a moment to think about it.  "We should hit the weapons room first, take out the threat.  Dammit, it could be either way.  Upstairs will be closer to the surface, so better to get their transmissions out, but B-level sounds more secure."

Heero saw an obvious solution.  "You take upstairs, we'll take B-level."

"Don't even think about it."

"It's the best decision."

"You know something we don't, Yuy?" Brooks demanded, fingering the transmitter on his wristband ominously.  It was obviously hooked into their collars.

Heero just looked back at him calmly.  "The two of us can clear B-level.  It will probably take more men to explore 'upstairs'.  You might want to split us up, but I doubt anyone really wants to 'babysit' us.  Besides, you're the only one with the switch and the authority to take us out, but you won't go with us and send your men off by themselves."

"We can just pick one and take our chances," he growled.   "Either way, we'll put a stop to this."

"The 'boss' may have a system to trigger the weapon wherever he is.  It sounds like Spieler is running their ops.  He was an important man in their Moon Base operation.  I'm sure he wouldn't hesitate to carry out the strike if his bosses are taken out.  We can't just go with one.  We have to attack them both."

"How do we know--"

"You don't.  But we haven't given you any trouble so far.  I don't know what you all think we're going to do if you let us out of your sight.  We're not interested in helping these people or letting them win.  What can we possibly do to endanger this mission?"

He was right, damn him.  Not about them being trustworthy, but about them splitting up.  With four of their men down, they couldn't afford to sideline two members of their unit.  Nor was he willing to sacrifice one of his men by assigning him to keep an eye on these jackals.  Two of them were injured, besides.  They needed to split up.  There wasn't even a guarantee that the EUW would wait for sunset anymore now that they knew their security had been breached.  He reflexively checked his watch again before growling once more.  "Dammit, fine.  Yuy, Maxwell, you head to B-level.  We'll clear 'upstairs'.  But don't get any funny ideas.  I'll be monitoring your progress."

"Whatever," Duo muttered, earning himself a sidelong glare from both sides.

They split up.  Brooks and his men hadn't been holding them down, but Duo felt considerably lighter on his feet now that they didn't have to think about their every action.  As long as the signal on their locators kept moving forward in the right direction, Brooks couldn't complain.

B-level was one section of the base over.  The extra security forces were being moved into the area, forcing their retreat into side passages.  Watching the flow of traffic as it passed them by, the pair decided on a direction and charted a course.  While waiting for three men at a corner to stop talking and get out of their way, they had a whispered conversation of their own.

"Hey, Heero," Duo started.  "You think this is total bullshit?"


"Waiting around all this time.  Where are my explosions?"

"I never promised you any explosions, Duo."

He stuck out his tongue.  "You suck.  We should be killing these guys instead of waiting for them to finish their smoke.  We're just going to have to kill them later, anyway."


"Man, that self-righteous asshole thing of yours doesn't include mass mayhem, does it?  You really suck."

Heero fell for the pout on his face and laid a comforting hand on his shoulder.  "Maybe on the way out, okay?"



Duo stuck his tongue out again.  "This is boring, man!"

"I'll make it up to you."


"...Depends what you're expecting."  He held up a hand to forestall an answer as he listened closely to the echoes in the hall.  "Okay, let's move out."

They quite boringly waltzed down the corridor once the men were gone, which made Heero feel bad, so he stopped and let Duo embed some explosives in a wall panel before they moved on.  During the exploration of the next corridor, they found themselves confronted with two more patrolling auto-defense turrets.  The pacifists seemed to favor them.  The soft whirring sound their motors made was far too easily masked by the noise of the ventilation system and the electronic hum of the lights, but after the intruders had been detected, a loud tweeting alert sounded.

Duo flattened himself against the wall as Heero jumped back to avoid a blast.  One shot from Duo's weapon was enough to dispose of his droid while Heero, ducking to avoid another shot, landed with his back to the ground and fired at his enemy.  When it plunked to the floor, its alarm dying with it, Duo smirked and gave Heero a hand up.  "Graceful."

"Far more graceful than getting my kneecaps shot out.   Let's move."

Men heard the alarm before it died, bringing them into the sector, and Duo got the excitement he wanted.  Bullets were dodged and stun grenades hurled as they wove their way through the complex.  Maybe Brooks would even be glad.  The reinforcement unit came to their sector to defend against the intruders, drawing attention away from the upstairs level.

"Well," Duo said over the sound of gunfire.  "I'm having a great time.  You?"

Heero felled the last man in the detachment in front of them and answered with only a small smile and a shrug.

Double reinforced doors were a pretty good sign of something important.  They worked on breaking through the security on the door lock, and when Heero managed to get the gears to open the doors only a few centimeters, Duo tossed in his last stun grenade through the crack.  After the initial shouts died down, Heero completed the circuit again and allowed the door to finish its cycle.

There were men at stations around the room, busy being woozy in or near their chairs.  Two of them had their weapons out, and they were taken down first.  The two other men, just about falling over in their seats, were hit over their heads to ensure their docility.  That left only the man in the middle of the room, standing unsteadily in front of a large computer system and a screen that filled a good deal of the wall.  It displayed a set of maps, diagnostics, and targeting information.

"Spieler," Heero identified from Noin's description of the man.  He leveled his gun at the man.  "Step away from the console."

He did not comply.  "Heero Yuy," he slurred.  "I see you're doing well these days."


Spieler's attention was riveted to a smaller screen set in the computer console.  The man that had issued the ultimatum was on one part of the splitscreen display.  The bald man that had complained at them when Relena called was on the other half, looking more constipated than ever at the first man's arrogant claims.

"We've stopped the weak little force you sent here, Senator.  It's as we said: you do not have the strength to back up your flawed philosophy.  Now hand over the government before more of your men have to die."

"You're deluded if you think your plan will work, Kellan.   The people would never support you."

"The people want leadership.  They want people in charge that can get things done, and you are obviously not getting anything done.  I hope you gentlemen have a backup plan.  Unless you yield to our demands, we will demonstrate to you that we have not been making idle threats.  You have thirty minutes to make up your mind."

Heero took advantage of Spieler's distraction to push him away from the computers and into the center of the room.  The man struggled, but he was no match for Heero and went reeling with a punch to the jaw to land face first on the computer consoles.  Something beeped as Heero dragged him off the interface and dropped him on the floor.

"That better not be the arming sequence," Duo observed mildly.

He glanced up at the dialog boxes that popped up on the large display, thankful to find them merely error messages.  He closed them out and inspected the rest of the displayed data.  "Looks like Spieler was down here to press the button."

Duo looked up as if he could see through the ceiling.   "Guess Brooks either hasn't made it upstairs yet, or this Kellan guy's bluffing."  The communication between him and the senator had been cut, leaving the screen blank.

"At least they're still waiting until sundown."  He poked around the interface a little.  "Looks like they have a button upstairs, too.  This reads as accepting a network signal from up there."

"Can you cut it off?"

"Well, I'm no Pargan," he answered dryly, taking a seat.   "But I'm sure I'll be able to manage something."

Duo heard a small groan from Spieler and took the time to kick him in the gut.  The movement subsided.  "So.  I guess our heads are intact after all.  So far.  Feeling good yet?"

"Hm?"  He dragged his head out of the bitstream long enough to consider the question.  "Some.  Maybe.  I don't know.  Ask me again in a few hours."

"Yeah, maybe the adrenaline will have faded by then."   Hell, it was already fading, leaving them with only a mission performed on someone else's orders.  He'd never gotten the big boom he wanted.  He went to stand behind Heero, draping his arms loosely over Heero's shoulders while he studied the data on the screen.   The capitol building was clearly targeted.  There were several other coordinate sets entered into the queue, with text labeling them as government installations as well.  "Wonder if this would have worked."

"And... done."  The indicator beside the signal monitor turned red, showing the input was now cut off.  "Depends on how much they can target with their weapon right now, I suppose.  It'll probably take them time to complete the full array that they had planned."  He poked around the system again, finding information on their weapons capabilities.

Duo fingered the collar around Heero's neck.  "I told you before, Heero, I'm not so into the whole master-slave scene.  We gotta find a way to get this off."

Heero touched the hand near his neck.  "I've noticed you're not into a lot of things, Duo.  You're not the bad boy you like to think you are."

His brow furrowed.  "I am, too.  A guy doesn't have to, to, to like fucking corpses or something for him to be a bad boy."

Heero winced.  "Necrophilia does not a bad boy make.   Yes, I would agree.  But I would stop right there, please, otherwise I might mention something about how you doth protest too much, and I'm sure things would just go downhill from there."

"Hmpf.  Fine.  But you still owe me.  You said you'd let me blow something up."

"I didn't give you a timeframe."

"Does your self-righteous asshole-ism have to extend to me, too?"

"It's part of my charm, though, isn't it?  Hmm, look at this.  Maybe it would have worked.  A lot of the infrastructure is there to complete the grid.  They just haven't finished hooking it up yet.  Although I'd guess that a lot of this was done in the last twenty-four hours.  Sloppy work."

"Hmm... waaaait a sec."  Duo leaned over to expand on some data he saw fly by.  "Hey, babe..."

This sounded like it had the potential to cause a lot of trouble.  "What?"

"How would you feel about doing some quick work to clean this system up?"


"Well, you did promise me explosions..."

Kellan glanced out his window, wishing the sun would hurry things along.  They had managed to intercept the other half of the government team on their way to completing their mission, but he knew that there were still others out there.  Eight was the standard squad size, and eight had been accounted for.  Was there another eight running loose in the compound below?  He hadn't received a report in a while, but the upstairs computer, connected to the main weapons controls below, still showed all systems green.  The network still showed activity, in fact, proving that the men down there were still hard at work completing the system.  He would have to remember to reward them for staying on task despite the raid.  It was also a good idea to keep the systems programmers happy and loyal.  That, or dead.  They were usually the first to create or find vulnerabilities in the systems they had a hand in crafting.

The sun was kissing the horizon.  He drummed his fingers impatiently while three of his colleagues behind him discussed the possibilities that their enterprise was opening.  When the phone call came, he smoothed his expression into an appropriately smug one and completed the connection.  That annoying Senator Reynolds came up on screen.

"You're making a terrible mistake, Kellan," the man warned without preamble.

"I get the feeling that you're the one about to make a terrible mistake, Reynolds," he answered calmly, rubbing the activation button.  "Admit it.  You're impotent."

"You're insane."

"I see you just won't understand our point of view until we demonstrate its superiority to you.  You have about five more minutes to resign all power.  Will you do what's right for the people?"

"Not so long as there is a chance you may be persuaded otherwise."

"You mean Captain Brooks and the others?"  He shook his head.  The good captain and the surviving members of his team were being kept under guard in a nearby room.  They certainly would be causing no further trouble.  He decided not to let the senator know that there were still others possibly available to foil their plans.  "You always were such a sore loser.  Give it up, Reynolds."

"Blowing up the capitol building won't change anything!"

Kellan frowned slightly, noticing his display telling him that the weapon had been charging, but then he shrugged mentally.   Spieler was probably warming it up in preparation for the strike.   It was good having employees that could anticipate one's wishes.   "It's only a show of our power, Reynolds.  We aren't complete barbarians, you know, ready to take the most drastic course of action without first giving you a chance to change your minds.  After sunset, if you're still unwilling to hand over the government, we'll discuss the new terms of your surrender.  I promise you, the price you pay will continue to rise until we are no longer interested in doing this the proper way."

"Proper way?  You call these threats 'proper'?!"

"We are being considerate enough to allow you the opportunity to settle your affairs and then step aside neatly.  That would be what is best for the people, after all.  A smooth transition in government ensures that there will be little disruption in their lives and the programs that support them.  We are, however, prepared to simply seize control from you, if that is what it takes to rid this world of your ineffectual methods.  Sometimes, drastic measures have to be taken to excise the cancer from a body.  We opted for the non-invasive approach first, but you've decided to make this difficult."

He frowned again, noticing the flashing message on his display.  His weapon had just fired?  Impossible.  What was Spieler thinking?  Then he noticed that the intended target of the capitol building was still intact.  The actual target had been modified to a set of coordinates that he did not recognize.  A test run, perhaps?  He was going to have to have some severe words with Spieler about following the proper communication channels once his speech to the senators was over and done with.  At least the capitol's coordinates had moved back to their proper place at the top of the queue, and he watched as the system realigned itself to its initial target.

An aide pulled Reynolds aside and delivered a message.   "What?" he squawked, turning back to Kellan.  "What is the meaning of this?"

"Of what?"

"Why have you destroyed our communications facilities?"

Good question.  He made up a good answer.  "To prove to you that we have now expanded our effective range.  We have more power than you think, Senator.  This is your last warning."

"We will never give into the threat of terrorists!"

"Very well.  I hope your people heeded the evacuation call, Reynolds.  We don't want any unnecessary loss of life."  He smiled, then keyed in the command to fire.

Nothing happened.  He grit his teeth, trying not to let his dismay show as he turned his attention to the targeting computer and confirmed his command.  Again, nothing happened.  What had that fool Spieler done?  Checking the data quickly, it looked like the weapon was still recharging, the time far surpassing what the technical reports had said it would.  Oh, the outrage!

Before Reynolds had the opportunity to question his sense of timing, there was a commotion outside the door.  Shouts, gunfire, and then the door burst open.  The two guards in the room with them were mowed down by Brooks and his men.  Curses!  How had they gotten free?  He scowled and tried desperately to make their weapon fire again, but it still seemed as if it was refusing his commands.

Brooks appeared beside him, pointing a gun.  "I'm going to have to ask you to stop that and step away."

Left with no other choice, he was forced to do as he was told, but not without strident speechmaking.  One of the men punched him, and he settled down a little after that.  After checking the console to make sure there were no countdowns active, Brooks took advantage of the connection to communicate to his superiors their mission success.

"What about them?" the senator demanded.

The commander frowned.  "We were forced to split up.   They were sent downstairs to take care of the weapons array."

"What were you thinking, Brooks?"

He stiffened, confident in his decision.  "Sir, they did not show any signs of trouble or rebellion during the time that they were working with us."

"It doesn't matter now," the senator interrupted, searching his desk for a small box.  "They won't be a problem anymore."

Across the room and observing the proceedings, Relena's voice rang out.  "Senator Reynolds!"

"Restrain her," he ordered the guards, and they did, holding back Zechs and Noin as well.  They also had been nearby, monitoring the situation.  Unfortunately, as mission control, they had not been armed.  "This 'incident' has only proven how dangerous they are to our society.  We cannot allow their threat to continue."

"They're a threat only so long as you continue to treat them as such.  They've helped you!  They didn't betray our trust at all!"

"You were the only one that ever trusted them, Peacecraft."  He flipped the cover on the small box and pressed the button inside.

"No!" Relena cried, struggling against her guards.

"Holy shit!" an assistant shouted across the room.

Reynolds turned irritably in her direction.  "What is it, Luca?"

"The capitol building, sir.  It's... been destroyed!"

Deep within the bowels of an underground bunker, Duo was straddling Heero's lap, intent on exploring every last surface of his partner's mouth with his tongue.  When at last he felt the job sufficiently completed, he pulled away with a happy sigh.  "You're too good to me, baby."

Heero shrugged.  "I did promise you explosions."

He laughed merrily as he leaned back, closing his eyes and imagining the mayhem.  They'd found a surveillance camera that had been set up near the capitol building, ready to record the results of the EUW's power, so they'd gotten a live feed on that.  There had been more dust than fireball, really, but it had looked nice against the setting of the sun.  Heero had taken offense at the inaccurate targeting system and rewritten it for a higher degree of precision.  The demolition of the building had been no less effective, though.  Just cleaner.  More explosive was surely the disaster of an orbital strike platform up in space.  After they had used the weapon to take out the relay devices that were responsible for forwarding the signals from the government offices to the collars they were wearing, they'd reprogrammed the beam weapon to overload on next fire.  The explosions probably ignited the mine field that had been deployed around the platform as well.  It would have been very pretty.  Maybe they could find footage of it somewhere.

Heero slid a hand behind Duo's head and pulled him back.   "We should probably get out of here before Brooks comes down looking for Spieler."

"Oh, fine."  He kissed Heero's nose before climbing out of his lap.  "So... wanna go find a nice beach somewhere, have a sweet summer fling?"

"Maybe," Heero answered, stretching.  "Though I was thinking we might go back to space for a little while."

"Oh?  Leave something up there?"

"I hope you haven't completely alienated yourself from Howard."

That took a bit of the joyous haze away.  "Why?"

Heero touched the collar around his neck.  "Because he's probably got what we need to get these off."

Duo pouted, but was in too fine a mood at the moment to get truly upset over the suggestion.  "Oh, fine.  Be right, why don't you.  But we're finding a good beach town right after!"

He smiled.  "We'll see."

They stepped over a guard's groaning body and left the control center.  Duo slung an arm over Heero's shoulder.  "So... feeling better yet?"

"I feel..."  He gave the matter some serious thought before finally coming up with a soul-deep smile.  "I feel like I have some control over my life, Duo.  I feel like... I feel like I just might be able to do this."

Duo grinned in response.  "See, I was right all this time.  Blowing shit up helps."

"Oh, shut up, you."

author's notes:

special thanks to the plaidest of all dragons, against whom ideas were mercilessly thrown.  a flood of text, as well, as the final hours wound down.

this story shamelessly drew inspiration from the incredibles, gundam seed destiny, escape from LA, the rock, boondock saints, chronicles of riddick, and most likely countless other sources that i have since forgotten.  the author considers the finished product to be something of a dark comedy, so please excuse any oddities in the tale.

This piece of fiction is the intellectual property of the little turnip that could. The basis for this fic, i.e. Gundam Wing, Kyuuketsuki Miyu, et al., is the property of someone else. The author can be con tacted at jchew at This has been an entirely automated message.

last modified : 1/19/2006 00:27:14 PST