Deliveryman + Part 11It didn't take me long to wrap up the few loose ends I needed to. A call to another buddy of mine in the delivery business made sure any jobs that got called in were okay to transfer to her, and a quick check to make sure all my files were deleted off my computer and I was ready to go.
I had been expecting this. I had always thought that one day the guys would find out, or the docs would get tired of using me for whatever little game they were playing. I was prepared- final paperwork all done and everything else. I did these last tasks automatically, as if I had always been preparing to do this.
I didn't expect that last phone call.
I was on my way out the door- literally- when the phone rang. I went back to answer it, thinking that it was the docs asking me why I hadn't left yet, or hell, with my luck, maybe even a phone solicitor.
I didn't expect Quatre.
Particularly not an angry Quatre.
"Duo! Is this true?" Quatre demanded the minute I answered. He was vibrating with anger, his blue eyes blazing in fury. I blinked at him.
"Is what true?"
"What do you think? That you've been lying to us all this time! That the doctors have been having you spy on us?"
"Yes, Quatre. It's true." I took a step backward from the rage on his face, even if it was only by vidlink. I think I've mentioned before how scary Quatre is?
"You bugged us? Spied on us?!"
"Yes." I tried to remain calm. I hadn't thought I was going to have to face any of them again. At least Heero had gotten to all of them, and by the looks of things Quatre was in the Preventers med center.
"And the rest? The doctors are still alive?"
"And you knew that they had..." he made a gesture towards his temple, too irate to finish his sentence.
"I can't believe you'd do this to us, Duo! And then to make Heero come and tell us? Too afraid to face us yourself?" He said scornfully, making me flush. I managed to answer him calmly, despite the heat in my face. He was right.
"Yes. I should've been the one to tell you. I'm sorry Quatre."
"That's not going to cut it Duo." Quatre had gone icy. "Get over here and debrief us! We need to know how much they know."
"I can't. G. told me to come in."
And just like that, the rage was gone.
"What? Heero said you weren't going to tell them..."
"Unless they asked." I shrugged. "They asked. I was the one accumulating the files on you Quatre. They only have what I gave them. The files are erased and I won't be spying anymore. Do a sweep for the bugs and you're clear."
"What do they want you for?"
"I'm sure I'll find out when I get there." I reached for the hang-up key. I met his eyes, trying to show him that I meant what I said. "I really am sorry Quatre." I hung up and headed for the door. The phone started to ring again, but I ignored it. I didn't want to be late.
I followed the coordinates G. had sent me to a small med satellite not too far from L3. The records said it had been abandoned after the first Eve war. I landed my ship on one of the platforms and found J. waiting for me in the airlock.
"Duo," he greeted me. "Did you tell the others where you were headed?" Those odd goggles were focused on me intently.
"No," I replied. "They only know that you called me in."
"Good, good," he sounded pleased and I wondered why. I followed him down several corridors until he finally stopped in front of one of the doors. He hit a few keys and it slid open.
It was like stepping back in time. The room was set up like G's old lab. G was there, bent over one of the tables. Master O was there as well, fussing with some equipment.
There were only the three of them left. Quinze had managed to kill Instructor H and Doctor S on the Libra.
"Lay down boy," J pushed me over to a cot that was surrounded by machines.
"What do all these do?" I managed to ask.
"You'll see. You promised to cooperate, Duo- remember? When you took us off the Libra?" G reminded me.
"I remember." I sat down on the cot. "I wish to God I had left you there."
"You couldn't do that." J smiled. "I told G that you were a bit too emotional for the job, but that ended up working to our advantage. Lie down Duo."
Once I was stretched out, J busied himself attaching little electrodes to my head while G typed instructions into one of the machines.
"Relax Duo," G told me.
"Like I can." I retorted.
"It's not going to hurt you," J lectured. "We just want to see if the new Zero had any impact on your brain. We want to get some readings, that's all." G stepped up beside him, and before I could react, he had pressed a needle into my arm.
I faded out quickly after that.
When I woke up, I was still on the cot, various cords still attached to me. Master O was leaning over me, changing some of the electrodes. I could hear the other two doctors in the background fussing over something.
"Ah, awake now Duo? Good."
"What now?" I asked him.
"Just a few more tests," he told me matter-of-factly. "We want to perfect the Zero system."
"Why?" I asked him. "Are you planning to start another war?"
"No," he chuckled. "We're trying to prevent wars."
"And how did White Dog fit into that?"
"You stopped them didn't you Duo?" Master O raised an eyebrow at me.
"Are you telling me that you PLANNED to have me take them out?"
"Of course. Zero didn't show you that? Hm, interesting." O smiled again. "We're going to hook you back up to Zero, Duo and put you in a simulator."
The simulator didn't look like much, just a silvery kind of grey box with screens on the inside. The chair was like my one in Scythe, as were the controls. The docs had me hooked up to so many machines that it was a test to move without dislodging a wire.
Then they shut me in and left me with Zero. Images started pouring over the screen as the simulation started. It wasn't so different from my training. I took out the simulated dolls with practiced ease. The only thing different from all the hundreds of times before it was the hum of the Zero system.
The familiar tingle of nerves, the flashes, were the same as last time. The probabilities crawled over my vision as I fought the simulated dolls. It was easier, this time to deal with the information pouring into my brain and I terrified myself with the idea that I was getting used to it. Then Zero showed me that I needed to stop fighting against it in order to succeed. I relaxed into it's embrace and the simulated struggle got easier than it ever had been before.
It wasn't until I took a calculated hit from one of the dolls and agony shot up my own arm that I realized how the system had been changed.
Any damage my suit felt- so did I.
It made me more cautious, more able to weigh the odds every time another opponent appeared. Zero adapted itself to my mindset and it became still easier to predict what was going to happen.
I began to feel as if I was the suit, or it was me. I moved with grace, none of the intermediate gestures of controlling the suit. It was my body. I was Deathscythe with the weight of my scythe in my hands. It was my movements that pivoted and swung Scythe. The simulation intensified, but I was lost in the joy of destruction. Even when blows hit me, causing me to scream in pain, I smiled.
Then the dolls increased in number and there was only one way to escape. One way to take all of them out.
My body exploded in a rush of flame and light, obliterating my enemies.
My head was still pounding when I finally swam back up to consciousness. Whatever version of Zero that was, it didn't agree with me. The doctors fussed around me, muttering about 'synapses', and 'psychosomatic reactions' but I couldn't concentrate on it. Everything hurt. I felt like I had really been in a battle, like that mobile suit had been me. I had felt each wound. I could taste blood in my mouth and the doctors' hands hurt where they touched me. I felt the delicate prick of a needle and the pain faded a bit. They were still talking, excitement in their voices, but I just wanted to sleep.
A series of sharp bells rang, making me wince in pain. Then I recognized the sound as a vidphone ring.
"That's Duo's code," I heard G exclaim in surprise. "Who would be calling us from his house?" I heard J laugh.
"Who do you think?" I heard the soft click of a button and then J raised his voice. Damn, did he have to be so loud?
"Well, well, what an expected surprise. It's a pleasure to see you again Heero, Quatre." A low droning buzz began, making me wince in pain. A sharp pain shot through my temple, then vanished, but the rest of my head still ached. I could barely make out Heero's voice.
"What have you done to Duo? Where is he?" I heard Heero demand.
"He's here." I felt the surface I was on shift slightly.
"What have you done to him?!" I heard the anger in Heero's voice and cringed. I didn't want to face him. No way.
"He's been testing the new Zero system for us."
"Duo!" Quatre called my name but I couldn't respond. It hurt too much.
"He's not conscious. We had some slight problems getting him to disengage from it. He's been under for 30 hours or so." J told him.
"You expect me to believe the Zero system did that?" Quatre's voice was cold. "Looks more like you've been torturing him."
"I can assure you that we didn't. The newest version taps into the pilot's neural net and makes them feel like a part of the machine they control."
"So they feel everything they get hit with?" Quatre sounded shocked.
"Exactly," J's voice was approving. "We didn't expect actual physical damage, but the body thinks it's been hurt and so it is. Amazing really."
"But it weakens the pilot." Heero pointed out.
"Perhaps. We should try and turn that more to his advantage in the next test."
"Next test?" Heero's voice was disbelieving. "It looks like he barely survived that one. You can't do it again."
"Oh, he'll be fine." That was G's voice. "Duo agreed to the tests, you know. He'll do whatever's needed."
"He only agreed because you forced him to!" Heero snapped. "Duo! Can you hear me?" I opened my eyes and blinked at the images on the vidscreen in front of me. Heero and Quatre were looking back at me. I must not have wiped the docs' number from my phone system.
But I had done that before I left- hadn't I?
"Heero?" I managed. He looked pissed.
"We're safe. You don't have to do this anymore."
"Ah," that was Master O. "Found out the secret of the implants, hmm?"
"Yes. And you should know that I've disabled Duo's as well." Quatre replied lifting a small device into the camera's range.
"Very good," O approved. "How?"
"Sonic waves at the right frequency." Quatre's attention turned back to me. "Duo. Focus. Do you understand? We are no longer in danger."
"Good," I blinked at his fuzzy image.
"Let him go, doctors. Return Duo to us." Heero snapped.
"You still want him back? After he betrayed you?" G's voice sounded amused.
"Yes." Heero's voice was flat. "If it had been any of us in his position, we would've done the same."
"That's surprising. We didn't expect the five of you to become so close. You all had such different personalities." Master O spoke musingly. "But then you all have surprised us in so many ways."
G put a hand on my shoulder and I winced in pain, closing my eyes again. "Duo is necessary to our work. We will not turn him over to you."
"War research is no longer needed," Quatre protested.
"You think not? You think this peace will last?" That was J. "It never does. A year, ten, twenty, and it will be gone again. Humankind is bred for war. And when they do take up arms again, they must know how heavy the price is. No unfeeling dolls, no remote range weapons."
"The Zero system will not only allow the pilots to feel the pain, but also their opponents. It will show them the outcome of their battles. It is needed." O added.
"And what if the people never use the system-" Quatre asked scornfully.
"They will. A system that can predict the future? They'd be insane to turn it down. They'll feel that the pain is worth the price." G laughed.
"So this is your excuse for torture? The remote possibility that war might break out someday?" Heero's voice was heavy with scorn. "It would be better for the five of you to focus on ways to preserve the peace."
"We have done that," G replied. "Why do you think White Dog went after Duo?"
"Indeed- why do you think we used Duo in the first place? He has managed to do quite a bit for peace." J chuckled. "Including keeping an eye on the biggest threat to peace. You four."
"I wondered why you had him watching us," Quatre didn't sound surprised. "He was watching us for signs of instability, wasn't he?"
"Among other things," G nodded. "After Wufei fought for Mariamaia we decided you all had to be watched."
"Yes." J agreed. "We knew we couldn't use him for long. The boy is too emotional and unbalanced. But he did a good job for quite a while. Longer than I anticipated."
I would've laughed, but I was too tired. I finally realized why the docs had picked me. Not because I had saved them, but because they considered me the most wacko out of the five pilots. The one that needed the most watching. If it wouldn't have hurt so much, I would've laughed.
"Give him back." Heero repeated flatly.
"Don't be silly, 01, we already said..."
"Give him back- and you can have me."
I struggled to open my eyelids. Heero couldn't...
"I volunteer for your little experiment. You know that I am better equipped than he is to handle Zero. Give Duo back and I will take his place."
To my surprise, J's voice was soft as he answered:
"No. You are not the optimal test subject. You were created to be the perfect soldier. Duo is a normal young man. The soldiers of the future will also be normal young men. I'm sorry Heero. I know you're fond of him, but we need Duo."
"Then you won't return him to us? You are going to continue torturing him?"
"Yes. If there's anything left of him after the experiments, you can have him back." G replied.
"Then you leave us no choice," Heero sounded almost happy and I wondered why. "Lady Une have you heard enough?" Lady Une's voice answered him-seemingly from thin air.
"Yes Agent Yuy. Charges of kidnapping, abuse, creating weapons of mass destruction, and experimenting on humans logged." She sounded more like Col. Une. "Warrant issued for arrest."
"Charges won't mean anything if you can't find us," snapped J. Heero began to laugh. It was his war-time, oh-shit-are-you-in-ass-deep-trouble- now laugh.
"We know exactly where you are. After all- we're here too."
All of a sudden, alarms began to scream. "We've been breached!" O shouted from across the room.
"Your systems were terribly easy to hack," Quatre sounded amused. "And it was too easy to reroute this call. While you've been chatting with us, we've been surrounding you."
I opened my eyes to see the doctors scrambling around, trying to rally their defenses.
"Duo? You still with us?" Heero asked as I blinked at the screen.
"What the hell have you done?" I asked him. "How did you know...?"
"You forgot to remove the tracers."
"Huh?" I blinked at him. Before he could reply, I heard a crash and the doors flew open. Wufei, katana in hand, and Trowa, carrying a huge machine gun, stepped into the room.
"Good afternoon, doctors," Wufei said with a feral smile. "It is so good to see you again."
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