Author: Maldoror
Disclaimer: The usual, Gundam Wing belongs to it's owners (Bandai, Sunset, and a whole host of others, none of which are me) and I'm not making any money off of them. Not a single peanut.
Rated R for language, lots of violence, sexual content
see chap. 1 for more notes

The Source Of All Things + Chapter 15
Three views on the Event

Howard started as two fingers snapped in front of his sunglasses.

“Wh-what?”

Duo snapped his gloved fingers again. “You spaced out on me, Howie. Stay awake now, I need your magnificent brains here.”

“But-...but a Dragon!”

“Yep, real live one. Real live wire, too. And reeeeal pretty, though man he hated it when I said that. I never knew they could be so gorgeous. Were they all like that?”

“Er, yes, pretty much.”

“Damn, for the first time I almost wish Juusan hadn’t squashed them like cockroaches.”

That got him a fearful glare from behind the sunglasses but he ignored it. Howard humphed and turned back towards the worktable where he was examining a piece that had fallen off of Shenlong. Then he glanced over his shoulder, remembering a detail.

“That’s right, your races were enemies.”

“That’s an exaggeration.” Duo shrugged. “They resented us and we thought they were insects.”

“Oh, right, an exaggeration.” Howard muttered. “So why did you save him?”

Duo’s gaze remained crystal clear and guileless. “I don’t throw away truly powerful things, Howard, especially if it’s the last of its kind. He might come in handy one day. Even if he’s only a loose canon, he might give Juusan a headache.”

“Duo...Erm, there’s something you should know.” Howard said, hesitantly. “He’s not the last Dragon. There are a few others scattered around, and a definite group somewhere. They’re riffraff, for the most part. It sounds like you saved the last high Dragon though. Maybe, if he joins the others...maybe their race can be salvaged.”

“Great, I just single-handedly saved the Dragons. Slap a medal on me and call me Louise. Can we talk about something other than those primitive idiots please?”

“But Duo...those remaining Dragons, they’re, well, they joined-“

“I don’t care what a bunch of barely evolved mechanized monkeys do, Howie. I want to talk about the zero system.”

“You what?!” Howard completely forgot about Dragons or about warning Duo that his uncharacteristic act of mercy might have, in fact, made his worst enemy stronger, and concentrated on the fact that Shinigami had gone completely insane. “What do you want with that horror?!”

“That horror, as you call it, is a very powerful weapon and an amazing arcane device.” Duo said, reprovingly.

“It’s an abomination! Why do you want that?”

“Well, I was there when Heero fought the Dragon. And it was...weird. That reminds me. Howard, this Chang creature said that Heero was trying to mesh with Wing, what does that mean?”

“Mesh?” Howard thought a few seconds. “I’m not sure.”

“He was pummelling Heero, who was pretty much just standing there and taking it like an idiot. Then the Dragon let loose a blow that should have killed Heero deader than rocks. And instead, Wing just gave this massive surge of energy, that just seemed to-“

“Fuck, who the hell is this kid?!”

“I’m sensing this now rings a bell.”

“I’m not sure but...it sounds like he’s linked himself to Wing.”

“The thing’s been draped all over Heero since that time in the Mater.” Duo said tartly, remembering that at the time he’d actually envied a mecha. “What do you mean by linked-“

“Not the same thing. Up till now, Heero has been using Wing as a piece of armour, a tool. But the gundanium mechas can be so much more than that, are so much more for Dragons. They can link themselves with their user’s life-force, and use his energy to boost their power, and allow him to use it as instinctively and completely as his body. The ultimate fusion of mind, body and machine. It’s the heart of what Jusan killed them for, because it’s a pretty scary and powerful ability, if you can push it to its logical conclusion. It’s very hard though, only the strongest and most skilled Dragons can achieve this, after considerable training and preparation. I find it hard to believe your boy managed it so easily.”

“It wasn’t easy.” Duo was frowning, a worried look in his eyes. “Heero must have felt there was something missing in the way he used Wing. And he just let the Dragon practically kill him to bring it out. Just like that. There was no doubt or hesitation...it’s like the guy has no consideration for his life at all. Or anybody else’s for that matter...Still, there’s something missing, Howie.”

“Well yes, Wing is damaged, and there’s stuff that was removed -“

“No, I mean in Heero.”

“Yeah, I’d say there’s a lot missing in Heero, particularly between the ears.”

“You should have seen it, Howie.” Duo ignored the comment, eyes turned inwards. “It’s like seeing a tsunami hesitate and look around for the best way of crashing into the coast. He fights instinctively once he gets started, but there’s that moment, that instant of...of placidity, of waiting. I can’t describe it, but he-...he reacts instead of acts! Like he’s learning as he goes along!”

“Well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, Duo.”

“It is when he’ll be facing Juusan.” Duo said, voice tight and eyes darkening. “Juusan strikes first and then that’s the end of it. You don’t get to retaliate with the Scourge. Trust me, I know.”

Howard was silent, unable to find anything to say to the depth of darkness and pain momentarily visible in the violet eyes, and knowing that Shinigami reacted violently to pity or any kind of friendly overture anyway. Than his Techno brain kicked in to high gear, the part of him that didn’t give a rat’s arse about other people’s emotions and problems.

“Is that why you want the zero system? So that Heero can do all the ‘reacting’ and such before the first blow even lands?”

“In a nutshell, yeah.” Duo nodded happily, good humour painted over the abyss.

“But zero was destroyed when Jusan attacked Iwanohone, wasn’t it?”

“Well that’s what I thought.” Duo smiled like the cat that had broken through the perimeter fence, killed the guard dogs, beaten the security system and picked the lock to assassinate the canary. “But then ol’ Svale said something funny the other day, about one of her pals and something he’s been studying. I got curious.” Probably one of his defining characteristics, Howard thought, along with cold calculation and ruthlessness. “I did some research...the man has a copy of zero. And...get this...he actually did what I was barely beginning to wonder about. He integrated it with a prototype mecha!”

Howard’s jaw hit his worktable and he actually removed his dark glasses to stare at the grinning young man. “You’re kidding!” He finally gasped. In his revealed eyes, a few qualms were blown away by the lashings of overwhelming curiosity about mechanics that had made him one of the leading Technologists in the galaxy. Hooking the zero system into Wing?! What an awesome challenge...

“Well I still need to determine if it’s true but it seems to be!” Duo nodded enthusiastically. “Of course I feel like killing the bastard for polluting an arcane wonder with something mechanical-“ Howard’s glasses fell back on his nose and he glared at Duo through the panes “- but then I found out that this guy himself could be very useful to our little plan! All in all...we can’t lose!”

“Bringing together one of the most powerful arcane devices with the most powerful techno one?” Howard tried to sound cool but a little tremor ran through his voice. He wasn’t going to stop Duo from trying this because the gleam in Shinigami’s eye showed that he’d made up his mind ­and besides, Howard was curious- but he reminded himself queasily that his young friend did not have his entire sanity at his disposal, last time he checked, and though there was a good reason for that...it was Howard’s job to be the voice of reason when necessary.

“Put it this way, lad.” He said slowly. “If we are going to try to do this...losing is something we definitely cannot afford to do. Or Jusan may not be the worst problem on our hands after all.”

*

The moon’s light slithered slowly over the stone curves of the sanctuary’s roof. Trowa, Quatre and Heero had returned a few hours ago ­ the dealer had not had much to sell after all ­ and the shaman and the crone were in their usual spot where they could discuss important matters without interruption.

Trowa watched the waning moon as he recounted the fight to Svale. He finally concluded: “It’s strange because Heero seems so adverse to anything mechanical. Yet he mastered this Wing thing without any problems. Well, very few problems.”

“He’s got an aptitude I guess!” Svale was drinking again but she wasn’t yet comatose. “So why are you worried?”

“Who says I’m worried?”

“My hand, which has been kneading your pretty thigh for ­“

“Svale!”

“-the last five minutes. Ouch, okay, no need to get violent. Respect your elders, kid.”

Trowa sighed and ran his hand through his bangs. “I am worried, Svale. We know nothing about Heero.”

“The lines of Centre led you to him. He’s the one who is meant to face the menace threatening the planet or she wouldn’t have set your lines intersecting.”

“And amazingly he’s agreed to fight the Scourge with barely a question. No question at all to be exact and that’s another thing. Maxwell mentioned it, and he’s right, Heero never asks questions.”

“Trowa, when you look like that you don’t need questions. You just click your fingers and anybody will fall into your bed without being asked!”

“That wasn’t the kind of question I was thinking about. How much have you drunk already?”

“Not enough to miss something else...Heero never used his sword during that fight, did he?”

“...No.”

“I wonder why not?”

“I asked him but he didn’t answer. Personally I think he was testing himself.”

“It’s a good thing he’s a fast learner then.”

“Yeah...But it’s not as if he let his attacker teach him anything. I don’t know why he paused before attacking, it was as if...as if he was trying to figure something out, but by himself. He wasn’t trying to learn anything about the fighting style of his opponent or his- okay, Svale, I’ll stop worrying about it if you take your hand off of my ass.”

“You have really lost your sense of humour, boy!”

“I just hope that’s all I lose...”

*

Wufei stared up at the sky blankly for a few minutes, his mind hazy. Then he sat up gingerly.

He had a bad bruise across his chest ­and his soul ached at the damage done to Shenlong who had tried to protect him ­ and there was a bump on his head-

...fists like steel...unimaginable power...Wing...and darkness, soft and comforting...a hand taking away the pain...a kiss on his forehead...

What the hell just happened?

For a few seconds he doubted it was real; if it had been then the bruises and bumps should have been fatal wounds. But the state of Shenlong confirmed it, it had really happened. Wufei felt his soul wither.

In the bleakness of failure and raging anger, a memory of words sank like stones.

Heero sure did a number on you...He might actually have a chance against Juusan...

The man who’d taken Wing was an enemy of Jusan.

Wufei was left reeling on the lips of the abyss. Thoughts he’d never considered ­ never had to consider - flashed through his mind.

Wing is mine, it belongs to the Dragons! But Jusan...but...

Strength.

That was the iron law of his race. You rallied to strength.

And Wing was his. And this Heero wouldn’t recognize that.

I’m sorry, Father. Meiran. I am forced to choose between two evils, and I can’t even say which is the lesser.

But I can’t give up Wing. The thought suddenly blossomed into a new certainty, strong and relentless. The forcefulness of the conviction caught him by surprise, but it gave him a purpose, a reason to keep breathing, another chance...He grabbed it with both hands.

Wing was too important. His race had died for it, dammit! He couldn’t leave it in the hands of a stranger.

He stood and looked around, and realized with some surprise that he had been laid out near his Etherripper, camouflaged a few miles away from the first beacon he’d followed in the mountains. The small spaceship, which could be used as a planet hopper in a pinch, looked like a stub-nosed fat-bellied airplane, as aerodynamic as cheesecloth but it could get him to where he was going within a few weeks.

How the hell did he get here? Who-...he could remember Heero, in fact the image of that man was burned into his brain as well as his flesh. But who had saved him? Who had healed him - Shenlong’s luminal monitor blinked before his eyes, he’d only been unconscious for a little over a day, someone had to have repaired his injuries. His armour was now too damaged to regenerate his body. Damn that Heero...

Something flickered in his mind, behind his anger. A soft touch that had seemed somehow...ominous...and the way the man had pronounced the name of the Scourge. Not Jusan; he'd said Juusan. Juusan. What did that remind him of?

It slipped from his mind, along with the memory of the voice and the touch. Some healer or other do-gooder. The man hadn’t hung around for thanks, so screw him. He had more important things to do and people to kill.

He glanced back from the hatch of the Etherripper.

Heero. Once Shenlong is fully repaired...I’ll show you what Gundanium mecha and fighting is really about.

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