by Bronze Tigress
Apr. 9, AC197
[second day of the Epyon de Teros hostage incident; two hours before the
Trowa, having infiltrated the castle by the aerial route, made his way
swiftly and silently - who better, after all? - to the room he and Duo
had already identified as the one most likely to be the surveillance centre.
It was. He loved it when military groups did the predictable thing, it
made life so much easier. And it also meant that they either had
a military trained strategist with the group, or someone who should be
snapped up for strategic training... The guard outside the room is no
problem to deal with; a minor distraction and a quick blow, and he is
an untidy heap zipcuffed on the floor by the doorway.
The guard at the console, however - is a bit of a shock. "I was wondering
how much longer it would take you guys to get here," the bass voice says
from the chair. "You're cutting it pretty close; I was beginning to worry.
Is it just you and the braid, or are there more of you?"
"Here - this monitor," a quick finger lands on a monitor, right over the
image of one of the terrorists, "that's not one of the morons I've been
leading around by the nose for the last month and a half; too small. I
rather assumed it would be you doing that, Trowa Barton, since
you're the infiltrations expert. But, since you are here, the hair colour
says that's your braided friend, doing the same thing with his hair as
I am - unless he's cut it, which would be a shame..." The broad shoulders
hunch, and then the blond man stands, turning so that Trowa can finally
see his face. A bandanna hangs about his neck, his hair has been tied
back and the ends tucked into his shirt, and a pair of aviator sunglasses
is clipped to his chest pocket, but the face is unmistakeable.
Trowa startles, then snaps, "Agent Wind? Or are you someone else again
A shrug, and a wry smile. "I deserved that, I suppose. Depends who you
ask, doesn't it? They think I'm Milliardo the Mad. One of these
days, I'm going to cut this hair and get out of the public eye for a while,
but at the moment it seems to attract the more dangerous nuts, and that
makes it easier to find them - and for Wind to deal with them. Hopefully,
it can be done without levelling the Kingdom this time," he says, as he
slips the dark glasses out of his pocket. "I'm assuming you've got some
strategy in this; if you're here, it's probably time for me to go play
shepherd again, right? I thought the old fallout shelter would be best
to lock them into when whatever distraction you've got planned hits...
They do know about that, right?"
He's not sure why, but suddenly Trowa is quite certain that things will
work out. "Winner remembered it. Make sure Duo gets in with hostages,
then, too, would you?"
"It's a good distraction, right?" Zechs asks hopefully.
"I don't think you'll be disappointed." A small smile lights Trowa's face.
"Go, your sheep await. Don't leave any strays, hmm?"
"Of course not... I'm not leaving any of these idiots loose where they
could get at my sister. And - comm channel 6 goes only to me, just in
case." He is already pulling the scarf over his nose as he whirls out
the door, heading for the main entryway, where excited noises show that
the anticipated ransom appears to be being delivered.
The flurry of activity after that is brief. The tiny figure of the tall
blond leader of Epyon de Teros on Trowa's monitor screen looks, and sounds,
suitably enraged when one of the Preventers delivering the ransom is shot.
He yanks the thin cord off a bellpull and wraps it around the perpetrator's
arms before angrily escorting him to the drawing room with the hostages,
"where he can't do any more harm with his stupidity."
Trowa follows their progress, and a moment later, identifies the screen
that shows the drawing room doors, although he continues scanning all
the others for motion. Yes, there is Wufei, already nearly in position,
and Quatre as well. He pulls a small comm, transmitting on a different
set of frequencies, out of his pocket and keys up line 4. "04, 03. I am
in position, 05's headed your way, 02's being taken to the pen, and one
of the wolves is a sheepdog in disguise. Confirm, over."
"Confirm that, 03, all in position, and inside help? Who?"
"You'll see when he brings the wolves to you. 03 out." He can't quite
hide the smirk in his voice as he clears the line.
The doors to the drawing room are flung open, and two camouflaged terrorists
nearly throw a third, smaller one into the room. The tall blond one snarls,
"stupid ass! you want to screw it up for us, you can go down with the
rest of the bomb fodder," and slams the doors shut again. The short terrorist
stumbles once, twice, and then regains his feet. And then amazing things
begin to happen.
The ropes wrapped around his arms and chest suddenly kink, twist, and
then fall to the floor, and the young man pauses to rub gingerly at his
wrist. Then, holding that wrist across his stomach, he uses the other
hand to somewhat awkwardly pull off his cap, and then his face scarf,
although he keeps his face somewhat averted. Finally, he reaches to the
back of his neck, and then lifts, pulling free a braid that must
be a good metre long, and then shakes his head as if glad to be free.
Then the terrorist looks up, spots Relena in the front of the gathered
crowd watching him warily, and smiles brightly, eyes flashing with amusement.
And then the most unexpected thing of all happens. "Hey, ojousan," Duo's
chipper baritone voice announces, "great party, girl! Not to worry, folks,
help has arrived. You'll have to excuse my not dressing up, but you'll
all be happy to hear that the Preventers are on the job. How is everyone
holding up here? No injuries, everybody feeling well?" General sighs of
relief and nods that all are well follow. A swirl of excited conversation
fills the room and Trowa turns down the volume on that monitor.
Assured that all the guests are present, and that there are no serious
injuries or illnesses, although several people are feeling the effects
of the stress, Duo picks up his comm and keys up with, "02 to all units,
I am in position. All hostages accounted for, no hostage injuries. 02
out." Then he snaps the small transmitter onto his belt, in easy reach,
and begins speaking quietly with Relena, evidently concluding by asking
to be pointed towards Une.
Duo spends a few moments talking to Une, who is sitting with a girl Trowa
realizes must be Mariemeia, and at the moment watching her dozing. Some
nods and motions later, and then Une is waving towards something in the
corner, which is currently acting as Une's coat hanger. Duo walks over
towards the object, takes a good long measuring look at it, then fumbles
awkwardly in his coveralls for something.
Trowa notes with a start that Duo is using the wrong hand - and the way
he's holding the other sets off a warning bell in Trowa's head. "No hostage
injuries, Duo? What aren't you telling us?" He pulls out his own private
comm and keys in Heero's channel. "03 to 01, move in. 02 is in position,
repeat in position, but there may be another problem. Proceed with plan."
A moment later, Heero's "Roger, wilco, 03. Moving out now," comes back
through his unit.
When he looks back, Duo is crouched beside the large vaguely obelisk-shaped
object, and appears to be removing one of the access panels - still working
with his left hand, and apparently muttering to himself and occasionally
turning to speak quietly to Une, although their voices do not rise above
the excited background noise.
//Frag, that's the bomb,// Trowa realizes then. //At least Duo's the demolitions
expert.// Trowa might like shooting things up, but explosive devices were
never one of his specialties. And this could be something a little worse
than the C6 they normally carried; at least there hadn't ever been a concern
about radioactive fallout from the Gundams self-detonating...
At that moment, Heero's voice crackles through the mock-Zero's speakers,
calling out to the terrorists to "surrender now! I am here to bring you
and all pests like you under control! You won't kill anyone else ever
again!" A short pause, and then Heero's voice, twisted with what might
be rage or grief, but which to Trowa sounds like terribly bad acting,
"Do what you want! She was MY woman - I no longer have a reason to live,
now that she is dead! Surrender now! Or I blow us all to Shinigami!"
The abrupt and loud arrival of Wing Zero throws all the terrorists into
a panic - not that the nominally 'dead' body on the floor isn't causing
them enough consternation as it is - and then they are running, their
leader calling all guards from their stations to retreat immediately to
fallback position. Duo's voice comes over the private comm - first a soft
laugh, then, "Shinigami thanks you kindly!" Trowa notes that Duo is still
poking carefully through what appears to be a nest of wires inside the
access panel he has removed.
Trowa comms quickly to Quatre, "04, you have incoming; take cover," just
in time for him and Wufei to duck around the corner as the first part
of the horde comes tumbling pellmell towards the fallout shelter. He turns
up the volume on that monitor so that he can hear what's going on. The
terrorists' leader falls back without seeming to, urging the stragglers
in. Suddenly, Milliardo snaps into his radio for the guards on the hostages
to "get their fool asses down here unless they want to be the toast breakfast
will be served on." Trowa blinks, surprised. Then the Epyon de Teros'
leader pauses, looks around at the empty hallway, and then turns to the
fallout shelter door and shuts it, closing the majority of the terrorists
Then he slumps against the wall, tugging his scarf off before sliding
a hand under the back of his collar to pull his hair free of its confinement.
"Ah, that's better... I know you're here, at least, Winner. Come out and
give me a hand locking these fools in, would you?"
As he speaks, the now-revealed Wind walks towards the corner where Wufei
has happened to take cover, and nearly jumps when Wufei steps out. "He
is not, but I am. Wind? What are you doing with this lot?"
"Locking 'em up! Shall we?" He gestures grandly towards the doors, but
before Wufei has a chance to step past the edge of the wall, a crackle
sounds from Wind's comm unit, then a tinny voice comes through, "channel
six, we have two incoming in five, four..." Abruptly Wind grabs Wufei
and pulls him around the corner again. "..two, one..." Two last Epyon
de Teros members skid around the corner and head for the door. They are
about to pound on it for entrance when they are interrupted by an astonishingly
young voice coming from the hallway they just left. "Excuse me, gentlemen,
but I don't think you should do that." They look up, then around to find
the small blond source of the voice, and never see the two shadows that
slip behind them to deliver them into unconsciousness. "After all, we
don't want you to alert your friends, now do we?" Quatre's smile is bright
as he produces a pair of zipcuffs from an inner pocket of his jacket.
Wind sweeps a bow towards him. "Thank you, Mr. Winner, that was very nicely
timed. Alright, that's all of them, counting the one Trowa knocked out
upstairs. Who's the demolitions expert? You, Chang?"
"Maxwell is better than I. Where's the bomb?"
"What luck, then. It's in with him, or rather he's in with it."
"Ah. Knowing Maxwell, he has probably already gotten started. Still, lead
on; he might need a hand. And we need to get the hostages out in any case,
call for evac, and some pickup cars for the morons in there." The three
take off towards the upper levels of the castle, leaving two tidily wrapped
lumps on the floor blocking the doors that were keeping their comrades
confined. Trowa checks the camera inside the shelter, making sure the
terrorists aren't trying anything silly, flips down the volume, and turns
up that for the drawing room screen again. He takes a quick peek into
the main foyer where Heero has hopped out of the mockup MS and is trying
to check Sally for damage from the shot to the chest armour she took.
Trowa is rather amused when she swats at him for checking lower down on
her chest than necessary, and is tempted to listen in to that conversation,
but sees that the other group has nearly reached the drawing room doors.
There is a sharp knock on the door, and then the three Preventers walk
in, leaving the doors wide open behind them. The two uniformed ones move
to flank the one still partially dressed as a terrorist. That Zechs (as
Trowa still privately labels him) has taken the camo jacket off to show
a plain uniform khaki T-shirt underneath, and is now displaying a long
fall of straight, pale hair rather than the cap and scarf the terrorists
favoured, is probably all to the good.
"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen," Zechs says in a deep, calm voice.
"We are with the Preventers, as I'm sure our other Agent has already notified
you. We have the situation under control now. If you could please remain
where you are for a few more minutes while we arrange for statements,
medical attention, and transportation, we'll have you all out of here
as soon as possible, and we deeply regret the inconvenience. Thank you
all for having remained so calm during this trying experience, and for
continuing to do so until we are certain nothing has escaped our attention."
That said, he turns to Wufei, pointing him towards the far corner of the
room, and then he pulls a comm unit from his belt and begins speaking
softly into it. "Three, this is six, come in please?"
Trowa sits up, keys the large console mike, and replies, "this is three,
"Three, there's an extra relay wired into the broadband underneath; if
you flip it, you should get through to a secure line at PHQ. There's a
code name taped to the back of the switch that you should give them, and
mine, so they'll authorize you."
A brief check under the indicated panel, //pilot1?// and Trowa keys up
again, "Code name of zero-one? Okay, I've got line out. What do you need,
besides pickup for the trash?"
A short laugh comes over the line, then "yes, his full name; we're going
to need a couple of medevacs for Sally, and the hostages, too, and probably
someone to take statements. Once you've got that, see if you can get the
rest of the landlines restored here? Thanks, three! Six out."
"Acknowledged, six; three out." Trowa turns to his work, still watching
while he makes the requisite call to request ambulances and prisoner transportation,
and then begins trying to solve the problem of how the main televid lines
out have been rerouted, keeping half an eye on the monitor screens. While
he watches, Zechs and Quatre begin circulating through the hostages, checking
more closely for injuries and getting names. Wufei, however, strides briskly
through the crowd, slipping easily around people, heading towards the
back of the room.
The black-haired Preventer stops to speak briefly with Une, then gets
himself pointed to where Duo is kneeling, peering into the guts of what
is purportedly an ancient, but armed, nuclear bomb. He circles around
to approach from the side, then kneels beside the other man. The two heads,
one black and one copper, nearly touch as they confer, and then Wufei
is reaching across to fish through the wiring, practically wrapping himself
around Duo to do so. Trowa blinks, surprised, when Wufei casually drops
his hand into Duo's lap, but the motion is explained a moment later when
the hand returns with a pair of wire cutters. He snips carefully, at Duo's
apparent direction. Then the two sit back, in unison, with a sigh of relief.
A moment later, Wufei is checking over Duo's arm, using one hand to hold
his comrade's and the other to test carefully at the injured limb, before
wrapping an arm under Duo's shoulder to help him up. The pair walk over
to Une, speak to her briefly, and then leave the drawing room, heading
for the main foyer. Once there, they gather Sally, sending Heero towards
the drawing room, and turn towards the doors.
"03 to 05, you heading out?"
Wufei fumbles for his comm. "05 here. Apologies, 03; these two need to
go to the Preventers' clinic to be checked over, but 02 and I will be
returning after that. And I am to tell you - once the reinforcements arrive,
turn your post over and report to Une."
"Roger that, 05, will do. Drive like a maniac, hey?"
Duo bounces, grabs the radio from Wufei, and keys up, "03! A sense of
humour! The shock might kill me yet! Catch ya later - we're outta here!"
Trowa laughs quietly to himself as he busily continues restoring outside
communications, while keeping an eye on the proceedings on the monitors.
As he watches, a swirl of people clears, and there, centered on the drawing
room monitor, are a pair of familiar faces. Two young blonde women are
sitting off to the side; Trowa recognizes them as Relena and Dorothy Catalonia.
From their posture, it appears that... //No way! Dorothy is... crying?//
Indeed, as he looks, Relena is handing her a handkerchief. //Well, what
do you know! Maybe she has learned something since I last saw her. I wonder
what it was that taught her how to cry?//
Eventually, outside televid lines are restored and backup Preventers and
medevac crews show up. Trowa radios down for someone to send up a replacement
for him, and when a petite black woman in a neatly pressed uniform arrives,
he gladly cedes his place to her. He makes his way easily through the
corridors he has been scanning for the last hour and a half, and soon
joins Une, Heero, Quatre, and Zechs in the drawing room.
"Well, now that you're here, Mr. Barton, I suppose I can start with you
three. You know Chang Wufei is already working with the Preventers, and
I understand that he was the one who suggested you come assist with this
operation. I'd like to make that a formal, permanent offer. We don't get
many terrorist threats, but you gentlemen have certainly proven more than
capable of resolving one. I was thinking about setting up a special section
for you six - for especially difficult fires. Agent Chang is wasted on
the regular assignments, and Wind here... we will have words later about
making reports, but it seems you have a knack for infiltration nearly
as good as Mr. Barton's..." She pauses to look around at the four with
an expectant expression on her face.
"Well, this is a bit of a surprise, Miss Une. I'm afraid I can't take
you up on your offer right away - personal buiness, you know - but perhaps
we could discuss this a little later on?" Quatre, ever the diplomat, is
first to speak. No surprises there; Trowa remembers hearing about the
stack of papers that Quatre left on his desk at home, and it is evident
that some sort of arrangements would need to be made for the company in
Heero's reply follows much the same lines - it is impossible for him to
take such a position without concluding some other business first, and
considering the impact it would have on his current self-imposed task
of keeping watch over Relena. Une is quick to reassure him that, if he
wishes, he can certainly be part of the crew assigned to that duty, or
that it could be written into his job, and Heero agrees to consider the
Wind is only too happy with the idea of setting up a special section for
particularly difficult fires, and agrees to drop by Une's office in the
morning to go over some of the details of the past few months with her,
as well as the proposed special task group.
Finally, it is Trowa's turn, and he surprises everyone there - including
himself, to some degree - by accepting Une's offer, on the condition that
he be given a short time to settle his affairs. He did, after all, promise
Cathy he'd come back, and besides, he does need to collect the few things
he left there before he moves to the Earth. However, he makes a point
of noting that did enjoy working with Zechs again, and it was interesting
how they had managed to reverse roles from previous encounters - usually,
as Zechs had said, it was Trowa who did the infiltration.
Then, he asks Heero and Quatre to please pass on his farewells to Duo
and Wufei, since he intends to be off as soon as possible so that he can
discharge his obligations to Cathy and the Circus. He doesn't expect to
be gone long, but he figures - winking at Quatre as he says it - that
he'll save Duo some trouble in tracking him down, since they do have some
catching-up to do as well. He leaves his uniform jacket with Quatre as
well, since he won't be needing it until he gets back.
Finally, he picks his way across the still rather crowded room to where
Relena and Dorothy are sitting, where he exchanges a few quiet words with
each girl. To Relena, he extends his best wishes for a much happier and
much less exciting year than this beginning to it has been. To Dorothy,
however, once he has assured himself that she is well, he extends an offer
of coffee and conversation, payable immediately upon his return to Earth,
which he expects should be before the month ends. She is somewhat surprised,
but agrees when he tells her, "you were crying; I wanted to find out why.
I wanted to leave time for the whole story, which I don't have now. And
- I thought you might like someone to talk to. I'm told I'm a good listener."
He smiles, then, and walks the two young women to the folks with clipboards,
suggesting that they could probably both use a rest, now that everything
is under control again.
By the time anyone looks around for him again, Trowa has slipped out of
the building, hailed a passing cab, and disappeared towards the shuttleport,
and the Colonies.
[back to Bronze Tigress' fiction]