Author: Maldoror
Rating: PG
Pairing: Well I assumed it was none of my business so I didn't ask.
Disclaimer: Oy vey, do I look like I'm Bandai, Sunset, and the whole host of people who lovingly created GW? Do I? No. Good cause like that you can't sue.

Note: THis is a little piece of fun I wrote for Casey's birthday. Have a good one, girl!

Bring Your Own

The abandoned satellite's rotation had degenerated some time ago already, leaving its silent invaders to drift like ghosts in the fifth-G gravity. Around them, metal creaked or hummed as the old life-support system, still viable, pumped air and warmth around the deserted hallways like blood through a dying man's veins.

The scrapes and groans around them, that didn't so much break the silence as highlight it, were getting oppressive but the five didn't speak. They were not prone to nervous babble. In fact, they were rather pleased not to be greeted with a hail of bullets. It was their normal welcoming committee.

This time they might have expected even worse...

Heero lead the way without any hesitation, the memorized map of the satellite guiding him to bay 3.

Which turned out to be empty.

"Figures." Duo grunted, finally breaking the silence in a whisper that was barely discernable. The four others instinctively turned to read his lips in the dim emergency lighting. "If they were still here, we'd have been fighting tooth and nail thirty minutes ago."

"I'm still getting a reading. Some traces of Gundanium." Trowa murmured, eyes on his detector.

"Traces." Wufei breathed. But he didn't holster his gun. None of them did. Their past as soldiers, and a few years in the ranks of Preventers, had honed their sixth sense to a fine-tuned instrument. They felt watched.

Quatre said nothing. He was drifting in a slow spin, eyes unfocused, with a puzzled look on his face.

"We search." Heero said softly, eyes travelling slowly over every inch of the cargo bay. He knew it better than the small apartment he shared with Duo. He'd watched the footage obsessively since its accidental interception four days ago. It had been here, just outside of cargo bay three, that the test had been held.

It had been reasonable to suppose the Gundams would be stored here.

"In a way I'm reassured." Duo was speaking a bit louder. His voice still barely rose above the ambient hum. "If they were still here, we'd be facing Gundams. All we're packing are some patched together virgos. And we left them outside."

"Reconnaissance-" Heero started, then realized that he was speaking to Duo's back. He rolled his eyes. Apparently he'd still not been forgiven his gaffe', if that's what it was.

The footage had been brief; a scene of two Gundams being tested one against the other, against a dimly perceived backdrop of stars. A glimpse of this cargo bay as the camera was put away, and four excruciating days of frantic research, had lead them here, following the faint thread of a small sample of scrap Gundanium that had been traced to this abandoned resource satellite.

The images were in all their minds, looping over and over again like a never-ending video, chilling them. Mechas fighting together brought back a load of bad memories. That someone had managed to manufacture Gundams was scarcely credible. The footage indicated a very high level of combat ability, even though the machines had only been partially finished, plates of Gundamium still missing from parts of the bodies.

One of the Gundams has apparently been built along the design of Sandrock, though it's half dismantled state made it hard to be sure. The other one, two thirds complete, had been loosely based on Deathscythe. The face plate hadn't been mounted yet. A blank piece of steel had been bolted on to the mecha's head as a patch to protect it during the tests.

Someone had painted a smiley face on the steel plate a fact Heero was still at a loss to explain.

That's when Duo had gotten very mad.

Heero had pointed out that it wasn't actually Deathscythe, so he shouldn't care, and anyway decorating a Gundam with a smiley face was something he'd think Duo would be the first to think of.

That's when Duo had gotten very mad at him.

Heero was at a loss to explain that as well.

Quatre had tried to explain it to him and given up after three words-

"Quatre?" Heero looked around. Trowa had already noticed the absence of their colleague and was moving quickly towards the far wall. Quatre was off to one side, near the open door leading to the cargo bay's control room. As they approached, Heero realised Quatre looked completely bemused.

Heero was surprised. It wasn't like Quatre to stray off without backup. Even if he spent most of his time running WEI now, he still kept himself in shape and ready to intervene if peace were threatened, as he had previously. In the face of this danger he'd hung up his suit, put away his pen and strapped on his gun (with maybe a bit more enthusiasm than his board of advisers would have liked).

Trowa reached Quatre's side. Even from the distance separating them, Heero heard the tall Preventer mutter: "Interesting..."

"Trowa." Quatre said, in a normal tone of voice that sounded much too loud for the shadow-haunted satellite. "Sometimes your laconic attitude is a bit..." Quatre made a gesture of aggravation, then shook his head abruptly and turned with a strange smile toward the other three. "You're not going to believe this."

He was right.

They'd found the Gundams.

All ten inches of them.

Duo was the first to break the new silence a very different type of silence than the previous one.

He had to hang on to the door jamb to avoid drifting through the room, laughing helplessly.

Heero scowled at him, then at the small figures sitting like dolls on a complex control grid that had apparently been cobbled together from the remains of the bay's consoles. They were exactly as they'd been in the video - and now that he thought of it, the angle from that footage had been odd and had given very little indication of size, they'd just assumed-...

Since the test, the Sandrock-like model had gained a few extra panels made of Trowa's detector confirmed it Gundanium. There was also - Heero started to scowl - a half-built model of the original Wing. Two partially complete ionic wings were lying on the workbench. Apparently the mechanic had thought it a bit sad to leave Wing wingless in the meantime. Cardboard cut-outs with a scrawl representing wings had been added to the figure. It might have been an attempt at angel wings. The draughtsmanship had not kept pace with the mechanical aptitude, though, and the wings looked like something that belonged to a chicken. Possibly a roasted one. Duo, who had drifted nearer as he tried to hold in his chuckles, took one look at 'Wing', a second look at Heero's face, and had to go and grab the door jamb again.

"This doesn't make any sense." Heero snapped, unable to keep to a discreet whisper in the circumstances.

Quatre just smiled gently, his eyes unfocused. Then he snapped to attention. "Trowa! Don't!"

Trowa glanced up from his crouch, one hand extended towards the Deathscythe clone. "Why?"

"Just...don't."

Trowa stared at him, then at the Gundams. "But...they're perfect. I can see the mechanisms through some of these missing panels. They're amazing. We can't just leave them here."

"That's hardly the problem!" Heero snapped before Quatre could object again. "If someone could do this, they could build real ones! We need to find out-"

"We can search the satellite but I think their owner abandoned them." Quatre said quickly, interrupting him with the assured voice he used when he didn't expect to be argued with. "It's no big deal."

"No big deal?!" Heero barked. Duo, who'd gotten himself back under control, started laughing again at the look on his face.

"The plans of some of our Gundams have been circulating out in cyberspace for awhile, Heero, you know that as well as I do." Quatre said reasonably. "They've even gained some fandom I understand. We've never bothered about it before because it would be nearly impossible to stop, not without means of repression we wouldn't have the right to use."

"What was really worrying us in this instance was that we thought someone had gotten hold of large quantities of Gundanium despite our restrictions." Trowa added quietly. He was still crouching by the figures, eyes going over them like precision instruments and with maybe a touch of longing. "But these could have been built from scraps, and they're well within the legal limit allowed."

"Hey, maybe they were built from scraps from our Gundams." Duo said a bit wistfully, laughter finally subdued. He walked over to Trowa and leaned over his shoulder. "Man, they really are perfect. Except for- well no, I'll even forgive the smiley I guess." He chuckled softly as he looked at Deathscythe II grinning back at him.

Heero snarled and turned for moral support. To discover an empty space where he expected to find it.

"If you're looking for Wufei," Duo drawled without even looking around, "he left ten seconds after we entered the room, muttering something about a huge waste of time. He didn't look any happier than you do."

"Well...sweep and check?" Trowa asked, straightening reluctantly, glancing at Quatre and then resting his eyes on Heero.

The later hesitated, then scowled. "Thorough search. Duo and I will hack into whatever's left of the mainframe, make sure nothing worse is up. Trowa, check out any traces you find. Quatre, take those with you and go with-"

"We leave them here." Quatre said firmly.

"They're evidence!" Heero snapped.

"Evidence of what?" Sandrock's ex-pilot was looking at the smaller version with a gentle smile. "The quantities of Gundanium are minute, you can't consider these weapons because at that size the thermal beams will be no more dangerous than a kitchen knife...it's not a crime, Heero."

"It should be!" Heero barked, then flushed as Duo collapsed, chortling, against his shoulder.

"Oh man...oh...C'mon, Heero, loosen up..." He finally gasped.

"Easy for you to say. What are we going to report to - Hey!"

Duo had spun him around by the shoulders - in the low gravity they turned a few times together as if waltzing - and was looking earnestly into his eyes with a manic grin.

"Heero, please, please, if you're my friend, please let me be the one to tell Une."

"I-"

"Please! I'll- I'll clean the whole apartment for a week!"

"Well-"

"Two weeks! Please?"

"If you insist." Heero muttered, looking completely bemused. He protested weakly as Duo shoved off from the floor, hurling himself towards the door while dragging Wing's ex-pilot (the big Wing, not the little one) towards the door.

"Come on then! Hurry guys! We'll go hack the 'frame, and you two check for whatever, toy trucks or somewhat. Meet back in the shuttle in an hour and if anyone lets this leak to Une over the radio I'll remind him why they call me Shinigami!"

Quatre and Trowa followed Duo and a complaining Heero, leaving the new wave of Gundams behind them.

+

Shortly thereafter...

A small ventilation panel in the ceiling swung open in a graceful arch that only low gravity could allow.

A laptop stuck its head prudently down from the gap in the ceiling.

It was followed by a pair of very big eyes with a mop of red hair twisted every which way by movement and a low gravity.

A slim young body fell down from the ventilation duct, turned in mid air and landed slowly in a sitting position next to the workbench, laptop already flipped open and booting up.

As an afterthought, the big eyes glanced up at the shaft, in time to see a dog, a short-legged corgi, tumble down in slow motion.

"Well I still think I should do it." The figure said abruptly.

"I could." The voice was high-pitched and enthusiastic. "I was just about to attach the wings and they barged in. Not nice. But no touching either. So maybe I won't. Shall I? What do you think."

By this time the corgi had landed with surprising dignity for such a small mutt. It looked back at the red-head - the slim, wiry body could have belonged to a boy or a girl.

"Oh very well. I won't reverse the toilet's waste containement unit on their shuttle." The red-head sighed, making a huge stretching gesture and speaking in a high-pitched tone that was half-way between excited and disappointed. "It would have been fun though. I hacked into their - did I tell you I hacked into their onboard camera? I did. I did hack into their onboard camera. You sure I can't- oh okay. Because they didn't touch."

The red-head folded herself - on the balance of probability it was likely to be a young girl - into a pretzel wedged half-way between the side of the workbench slash Gundam Remote Control Centre (or GRCC for short), and the wall, the laptop jammed onto her lap at an impossible angle, and started typing, making a noise like a sudden hailstorm in the silence of the satellite.

The corgi settled itself nearby philosophically, drifting three times on its axis of rotation before landing down on the ground for a nap.

The red-head spared one last glance at the door before continuing with her work.

"At least you liked them. I guess you guys are okay. Okay. You can. Right?" She turned to the dog. "We'll let them come again if they want to."

The dog looked up soulfully before closing his eyes again.

"You're right." She said firmly. She lifted her head towards the door again. "Like the dog says - next time- " a glare at the door " - bring your own Gundams!"

- Owari -

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