AU in that this is not set within a timeline, and deviates pretty quickly and pretty far from canon. Err, maybe it sort of started outside the canon. It’s been a long time since I watched the show. Also, this may not be expanded to a proper length story. I find posting things helps my train of thought. If it is expanded, then this comes from the middle. In the previous parts, Wufei and Zechs have shared a cell, courtesy of Romefeller, so they are acquainted with each other. Wufei’s escaped custody, and has a nasty cut on one shoulder.
I fully expect to have at least one more part, probably two, but if you hate unfinished things, this is not the piece (and to all appearances, I’m probably not the author.)
Warnings: May or may not be continued; may or may not contain: NCS, torture, drugs, angst, sex, and unintentional out-of-characterness, happy endings. Future 13x6x5.
Wufei gritted his teeth and prayed as he piloted his stolen Taurus through the battlefield, trying to fight the dolls while looking as inconspicuous as possible. It was a little difficult, given that most of the other mechs were exploding left and right, and he really had to work to get the damned machine to respond. He’d forgotten how fast Shenlong actually was.
Now, if he could get clear of the field, he might actually be able to get back to his mech, which was currently on a completely different continent.
Something screamed over his head – not a missile, but another mech. Wufei recognized the Tallgeese immediately – no other mech screamed quite like that. Merquise was most likely piloting it. Thankfully, he was targeting the mobile dolls, and not the manned machines, or Wufei really would be in trouble.
His radio was screaming at him – and all of Squad Bravo – to retreat. That meant he could head away from the others. North was probably best, since it was most deserted. No sooner had he started off than Tallgeese rocked overhead again, chasing a pair of mobile dolls towards the northern horizon.
And then something went wrong. Wufei knew it almost immediately, because he could see the Tallgeese list sideways, and then fell. The engines were still firing, but only propelling it faster towards the ground.
Merquise was trying to use the side thrusters to balance things out, but they were designed only for space, and they helped straighten the fall, but not prevent it. The Tallgeese disappeared behind a scrim of trees, and a moment later, there was the sound of something very heavy hitting the ground very hard.
He could see the dolls Merquise had been chasing pull away – not back towards the fighting, but west, toward Romefeller’s base. In fact, it looked like all the dolls were pulling back, leaving the the human forces were decimated, scattered, and probably not inclined to challenge one of their own mechs anyway. Hesitantly, Wufei went towards where he thought the Tallgeese had landed.
The wreck was serious – the mech had struck a hill. It looked as though it was being used to plant crops. The ground had been turned over. Hopefully that meant the landing had been a bit softer. Survivable? If Merquise had the proper harness system, it was, but there was no movement visible.
Wufei piloted as close as he dared to the smoking wreckage with the Taurus’ decidedly inferior maneuverability. He slithered down the zip cord, and ran for Merquise’s cockpit.
The Tallgeese was on its side, half-buried where it had plowed into the ground. The hatch was above ground, but twisted; the impact and firepower had warped the metal hull so that it was collapsing in on itself. He clambered up the hull.
On top, he could see a transport landing on the other side of the mecha. It was early; most salvage vehicles wouldn’t arrive until the battle was confirmed over. Wufei paused a moment, long enough to see the pilot drop to the ground and make for the Tallgeese. Shit. It was probably one of Zechs’ men, who had heard of his fall over the radio.
Wufei wrenched at the door. His arm screamed protest, but there was no noticeable movement. He seized a twisted metal rod from the rubble. He set the end against the door’s seal, and braced his weight against it. This time it creaked, opening a small space. Smoke began to wisp from within the cockpit, joined by denser columns from the exhaust ports.
He choked on the blue-black smoke, smelling coolant; had the power core been punctured? If so, he had little time. He pulled the neck of his shirt up to cover his nose and mouth, and gripped the impromptu pry bar again. Thankfully, the magnetic seals had been broken as the frame shifted positions, and he could actually feel it shift as he threw his weight onto it. The top edge of the door peeled back agonizingly slowly – too slowly.
“Goddamn you, Chang, get back!” Merquise’s voice was raw with the smoke inhalation. “The power core’s under pressure – it’s going to –“ His voice broke with a string of coughs, but Wufei was perfectly capable of finishing that sentence by himself. He’d destroyed enough mechs to know what happened when the power generators had problems – especially in the older machines. They generally exploded. Sometimes they imploded, if the vacuum breached as well, but the end result was always a heap of twisted metal and not much else.
His feet slipped on the hull, and he struggled to find a new purchase. His wounded arm felt hot and numb – no pain, but that was probably the adrenalin. Merquise was shouting at him, trying to get him to leave.
The other pilot had reached the top, and for the first time, Wufei saw him clearly. There was a silk scarf pulled up to filter out the worst of the smoke. However, there was no mistaking the deep blue eyes and forked eyebrows, or the hair color and style. For a moment, they stared at each other. Then, beneath their feet, the engine began to whine protest.
Khushrenada braced the pry bar, leaving Wufei room to add his own weight. Wufei followed suit. The door gave another six inches under their combined weight. Thick smoke roiled upward. Wufei turned his head aside, eyes burning, and caught a blurred vision of Khushrenda readjusting his scarf.
“The core’s going to blow!” Wufei shouted. There was an ominous thrum underneath their feet. The general nodded jerkily, and they flung their weight again against the bar. Merquise’s face appeared through the smoke, cursing them both. Another heave, but the door only groaned, barely moving again. It was a tight fit, but with luck, Merquise might be able to slide through.
“Come on!” Wufei yelled. Merquise shook his head, coughing around his protests. The dark-haired man shoved his hand into the gap, barely feeling his skin scrape against the hot metal. For a moment, he was sure he could smell flowers, and the face he saw wavered in the smoke. Dark eyes blurred back to pale blue. “Come on,” he said. “Come on.”
Khushrenada was kneeling beside him, arm in up to his shoulder, groping for Merquise. He caught the man’s collar. He was shouting in some language Wufei didn’t understand. At last, Merquise took Treize’s hand. Wufei shoved his own in further. The engine was screaming now, like a kettle left on too long. And the smell – dying flowers and coolant in the back of his throat, singed hair and cloth and gunpowder. It was so familiar that he expected the hand from the smoke to be the same color and size as his own.
Merquise didn’t hesitate; he seized Wufei’s wrist and pulled. Unbalanced by the flash of memory, Wufei lurched forward. Treize caught him roughly, keeping him from pitching onto the hot door. They both pulled backwards. The blonde slithered through the gap surprisingly easily; he might be broad, but he was flexible. He cried out as his ribs squeezed through, and Wufei made a mental note to check them – later.
Merquise fell to his knees on the metal, gasping for breath, gagging.
The thrumming under their feet grew more powerful, uneven, and there was a sound that made Wufei sick inside; a grinding whirr that was practically the worst sound he could imagine coming from an engine. Without a word, Merquise staggered to his feet, and the three of them ran.
They scrambled toward the transport, but they never made it halfway. There was light. Then there was the feeling of being in zero-G, of flying, and the heat at his back. That seemed to last a long time – long enough to see details of charred plants on the ground as it meandered up towards him.
Then, all at once, time started, and there was a wall of sound, heat, and pain ripping through him. He might have passed out for a moment; when he came to, he could taste dirt. Merquise’s weight was solid across his back. Wufei managed to turn his head, and found himself looking into a curtain of hair.
Merquise rolled off him, and Wufei sat up. Khushrenada was embracing Merquise, in a way that might be interpreted as comradeship. Maybe.
Wufei coughed, but it was still another moment before they pulled apart. Khushrenada looked at him, eyes faintly amused. “Well, this is not how I expected to meet you again, Chang Wufei.”
“No. I expected to have to chase you down for our next meeting.”
“On the contrary. I’ve been greatly anticipating our match.”
Merquise snorted. “Sorry to interrupt, but Treize – what the hell are you doing here? You’re supposed to be in
“Yes,” the general said. “I am. I’m afraid there were some complications with Romefeller – they wanted me dead, and I’m not quite ready for that yet.” He touched Merquise’s shoulder again. “It is lucky that you sent me the message when you did, or I would be out of touch. I’m afraid I’m going to lie low for a time,” Treize said.
“You mean hide out?” Zechs asked. The two men shared a smile, even as Treize turned back to Wufei.
“I can offer you sanctuary for a time as well, young pilot. I have heard no reports of your Gundam in the area; you will find it difficult to escape this area without military clearance.”
Wufei glared. “It is nothing I have not done before.” Too late, he realized he’d all but confirmed the assumption that his Gundam was elsewhere. Damn.
“I meant no offense. You stayed to help my friend; if you had not, you could be well clear of this field. However, I should warn you – I have not the influence I used to; I’m afraid I, too, am being hunted by Romefeller.”
While Wufei gaped at him, the general turned to his companion, and began to feel Merquise’s body purposefully, from skull to collarbone to arms to torso.
“Ribs. Ribs!” Merquise pulled away from the searching hands, and said something in a low voice that Wufei didn’t catch. Wufei took the opportunity to retreat to the other side of the ship, struggling to get his thoughts under control.
Wufei patted himself down, cataloging the new array of burns, scrapes, and bruises. Nothing new, but his shoulder hurt fiercely. No doubt he’d torn some stitches. Fortunately, his jacket was dark, and the blood wouldn’t show.
Wufei leaned against the transport, trying to work out his options. He could always return to his stolen Taurus, but he couldn’t go very far and he couldn’t be assured of winning against his opponents. Worse, his escape would be broadcast soon, and it would take priority as soon as the battle was cleared up. They would be looking for the signature on the stolen mobile, and he wasn’t sure he could turn it off. He needed rest, and there weren’t any cleared safe houses for half a continent. That meant camping out, or breaking in someplace, since he lacked money or papers for anything halfway legitimate. The vision of explaining why he was camping out on a battlefield made him wince, and doubtless security would be tight elsewhere as well.
Then again, trusting Khushrenada bordered on insane; Wufei had no idea what the general’s current priorities were, and the man was a brilliant strategist. He was capable of turning the worst situations to his advantage. It would be the worst sort of foolhardiness to put himself in the general’s clutches.
Merquise was an unknown quantity. They’d gained some bond in the handful of days spent together in the darkness, but Wufei doubted that was enough to carry over into the daylight. He was an enemy of an enemy, but that didn’t make him an ally.
And yet . . . both men had shown themselves to be honorable on and off the battlefield. Merquise had crashed partly because of his injuries – injuries that had come directly from protecting Wufei. And if Khushrenada had truly escaped from Romefeller, then Khushrenada might no longer have the influence necessary to protect himself, much less his friend.
Wufei rubbed his forehead. There were no good choices, and he just kept going round in circles. He’d have to trust his instincts – and as much as he disliked it, his instinct was to stick with Merquise – at least for the moment. They owed each other, and he wanted to make sure that Merquise would be all right.
Glancing to make sure he was still out of sight, Wufei worked off his jacket. He tightened the bandage, adding another few strips from his shirt. Then he dug in the near-invisible pocket in his wristband for the strip of pills. He always carried them now. There were only three left; he’d have to get a refill soon. He’d started this mission with ten. Perhaps he could persuade them to give him the formula this time; meeting his contact was dangerous and inconvenient – and it made him feel more like a junkie than he was really comfortable with.
They were supposed to improve performance and memory, and trick the body into believing that it wasn’t exhausted, sick, or hurt. When they wore off, of course, the body realized it had been duped, and the side effects were nasty, but so far, Wufei had managed to find a safe place to wait it out. If he didn’t take another, though, he’d be shaking like a real junkie within a half-hour.
Wufei swallowed the pill. He needed the boost to get through the next few hours; once he was out of the immediate area, he could make other arrangements. He still didn’t trust Khushrenada, and his own energy reserves wouldn’t carry him any farther without aid. He’d just have to rest once the drugs wore off.
Master O’s warnings about over-use were all very well and good, but he wasn’t the one stuck between Romefeller, the leader of OZ, and the lingering effects of two weeks of attention at the hands of Sergeant Benson.
He rose, brushing the dirt off his stolen pants, and returned to where Merquise and Khushrenada were talking in low voices, heads close, Khushrenada steadying Merquise with a hand on his waist. “We should get moving before the scavengers come to pick the battlefield.”
“Of course.” Khushrenada’s voice held only a hint of triumph, but his eyes positively gleamed with it.