Author: Maldoror
Genre: Action, Adventure, Humour, AU
Pairings: 3x4, 2x5, eventual 1x2x5
Rated:NC17 - for language, lots of violence, yaoi, sexual content
Feedback: Please! Particularly what you like/don't like about the fic.
Disclaimer: Gundam Wing belongs to its 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

The Source Of All Things + Chapter 27
Impact

Someone with normal vision would have been surprised at the lack of, well, pyrotechnics in the centre of the cirque, where the power for the huge, world-shaking spell was being gathered. There was just Heero, kneeling, dazed and slightly slumped, in a crude circle scratched into the dirt.

Trowa did not have normal vision. His one green eye alone could see the slight warping of the air around his friend that spoke of gathering power, and also noted the very unusual look on Heero's face that indicated something major was going down. The other eye, sacrificed to a different kind of vision long ago, took in the same scene but, instead of shapes, contours, colours and other illusions, it showed him the props and scaffolding behind reality. He could see the power, like a nuclear explosion in reverse, thundering into the circle and coalescing in Heero's mind at a frightening rate.

Blue eyes slowly focused on him, well, almost. Heero was staring at his right ear in childlike wonder, as if it was the most fascinating thing in the universe. Trowa found himself smiling fondly.

"Don't worry, Heero. I won't let them get near you," he whispered.

Heero, of course, didn't answer, but Trowa didn't need him to. The shaman glanced at a patch of blonde hair like sunshine a hundred meters off of the cirque. One last look. They might not both survive the coming storm. The wheel turned. Trowa leaned his big crossbow against his leg, loosened his headband and slipped it over his eyes. When he straightened, he was plunged into a world of patterns and lines, concentrating on the vectors of the approaching figures to the exclusion of all else.



---



The song of battle was rippling through Wufei's body - the pounding of his pulse, the hum and swish of Shenlong cutting through air, the tattoo of boots on earth as he weaved, dodged and attacked. Questions, doubts and Jusan had disappeared with the rest of the distractions as soon as the man - Fen, according to the old bag's previous words - had armoured up and deployed a wicked flail from his glove.

Wufei balanced on one foot, dodged the whip whistling over his head, straightened one hand in an empty punch a meter away from his adversary - a small but deadly ball of energy shot from his armoured hand, a ripple like a heatwave the only visible indication, whistling towards the man's head, intent on decapitating him.

Fen dodged easily, as if he'd seen it coming, as if he'd known Wufei would do that as soon as the Dragon had started to move his arm.

Wonderful, the warrior within purred. Heero was, apparently, a lost cause; even if Wufei could drag him from that circle, it wouldn't lead to much of a confrontation. But this man looked to be a proper opponent.

The whip flailed once more - his enemy had power, and an armour that seemed to be Dragon-inspired but had an unusual configuration and unknown abilities. Fen spun, the whip giving him space while Wufei dodged back. A light flickered as Fen finished twisting and plunged towards the Dragon. The whip - a distraction. An energy sword sprang to life in his other hand.

Wufei almost laughed as he dodged first the whip, then slithered beneath the swing of the sword, and straightened out in a punch. It didn't strike Fen in the face - good, the fight would have been over way too soon if it had. The blonde managed to twist and catch the blow on his armoured shoulder and staggered away.

"You'll have to do a bit better than that." Wufei purred. He took a step back, to let his adversary regroup and shake away the pain in his upper arm. Wufei spared a quick glance at the other two figures nearby. The blonde didn't look like a fighter. Magic user, perhaps? If he made any hostile move, Wufei would annihilate him quickly. He didn't like magic. The other was wrapped in a moth-eaten black long-coat and leaning against a rock. He seemed to have no intentions of fighting, as he'd declared from the start. Smart of him, Wufei thought, flexing his fists and turning back towards Fen.

The armoured blonde straightened. Wufei could feel him glare behind the mask that now covered his face. Fen attacked again, the next stanza of the song. There was a well-known voice in the back of Wufei's mind, trying to get his attention, ordering him to finish this quickly and move on. The Dragon ignored it.

This was his dance.



---



The visible world had disappeared. No more distractions. There were only the lines and patterns of fate and intent left, and Trowa observed them with detachment. Twelve men. Technos, with energy shields, light high-tech armour, and laser rifles. Trowa could read their intent, spreading around each like a miasma of death and violence. He could read their fate too, as it intersected his own; he had already moved to place himself at the focal point, the place where he could have the most effect with the least effort. Most of these men were going to die, but they were strong, and determined. There were too many possibilities for him to predict his moves too far ahead. The first four of these men were, for all intent and purposes, already dead. He was likely to neutralize most of the others as well. But after the dust settled, the survivors might kill him in turn. Trowa rifled the lines, in his own, organic way, far removed from Zero's superior, complex and rigid calculations. Yes, the future was going to be interesting. But whatever happened, Trowa could and would protect Heero. He moved again, three steps to the left - more exposed but insuring he was completely between the attackers and their objective. His fingers fanned through the quarrels in his quiver, dancing over the bands that identified them; he picked out two explosive bolts and slipped them into his belt. Whatever happened to him, those last men would not get near Heero. That much at least he could guarantee.

The men were ringing him in a half circle, sufficiently apart where they couldn't be taken out with one strike from a high tech weapon, or hinder each other. Professionals. But technologist ones. Trowa almost smiled, waiting. After a few seconds, one of them predictably swung up his laser rifle with a shrug, dismissing the strange figure that stood, blindfolded, between them and their objective, and deciding to get rid of him the most efficient way possible.

"Oy." The biggest one of them said, slowly. "...Wait...Jusan said-"

The man pressed the trigger and the laser rifle exploded. One down, Trowa thought.

"-not to use our techno weapons on Centre. Unless they're built special for this place, they can misfire," the slow one concluded. He was apparently the leader of the pack. If he was in any way concerned for his comrade, screaming at his burned and torn hands, Trowa couldn't see it even with his Vision.

There were curses as the men unslung their rifles and tossed them aside. They drew halotech knives and machetes from their belts, but Trowa could see the thought cross their minds - a line like an aurora borealis, faint but crackling with anxiety, hovering over the men's formation...opposing a crossbow when armed with blades was not going to rate very high on the fun scale.

"Don't worry. It's a crossbow. Low tech weapon." The leader said, still slow and uncaring. "Jusan said our shields still work here. Those little pieces of wood won't get near us."

Trowa levelled his crossbow at the first man - lines warping around him, showing him the weak link in his enemies' formation, the linchpin that could scatter them - and let loose his 'little piece of wood'. The one he'd crafted himself, with a charm that would send it hammering through most shields, techno or otherwise.



---



Concentrate, Quatre cautioned himself, tearing his mind away from the battle into which he'd sent his lover to fight, alone and heavily outnumbered.

Fen was making no headway against Chang. He was barely holding his own. To Quatre, the scene was overlaid and loaded with information like a heads-up display in a cockpit. The armours of the two fighters were not comparable; Epyon was a powerful piece, armed with Zero, but it was an older and of different construction than Shenlong. It outmatched the lighter armour in pure power and weaponry, but it was heavy and unwieldy. The younger version of Fen was vigorous and strong, and a much better warrior than his previous persona. But...Quatre bit his lip. He wasn't fully into the fight.

And Chang Wufei was. Quatre felt fairly staggered by the focus and concentration radiating from that strong, slender figure. His first impression of the Dragon was that he was a tight little ball of undirected fury, and he assumed this would hamper him in a fight. But as soon as Chang had attacked, he'd become as focused and sharp as Fen's whip. And his movements-...Quatre, with Zero's cold detachment, marvelled at the way the Dragon moved. Not a motion wasted; not a move that was not deliberate, a dodge setting up the form for the next attack, an attack already moving into a parry, as if he and Fen were dancing. Fen had Zero...but Wufei was still leading. Sheer skill, of an almost deadly elegance, like the blade of a sharpened knife, was driving Fen back again and again.

"Fen isn't going to last long," Quatre muttered to the wildcard sitting besides him quietly.

"Heero's doing good though," Duo answered thoughtfully. His eyes were on the fight in front of them, but his attention was apparently on the cirque at their rear, where the power gathered like an invisible storm cloud.

"Yes, but the Dragon will defeat Fen before Heero can complete the spell."

Duo leaned back on the rock, propping himself against his hands, lazily. Besides him, Svale was sitting on the same outcropping, looking at him out of the corner of her eye. For once she was as silent and ancient as the rocks around her.

"Fen could get killed," Quatre shot at Duo, a bit more forcibly. Though he didn't know why he bothered.

A faint feeling flickered over Duo's mind, but it was gone too quickly for even Zero to catch and analyze. Maybe regret. Maybe resolve. Maybe a shrug of total indifference.

"Very well." Quatre muttered, concentrating once more on the fight. Zero was agreeing with Duo, laying out the coldly calculated parameters of their survival, how to stretch out their resistance to their enemy long enough to complete the objective, whatever the cost. Quatre flinched as he heard a small explosion behind him, from the cirque where Trowa was protecting Heero with his life.

No.

Concentrate.



---



If he didn't have to protect a stationary and completely oblivious target - Heero - Trowa would be doing a bit better...

The leader, for all he had the brains of an ox, seemed to know what he was doing when it came to leading an attack. He'd immediately understood the import of the first man going down, a bolt cleaving cleanly through the techno shield to thunk into his left eye. Under the big man's orders, the remaining attackers had taken shelter behind the stones of the cirque, almost surrounding Trowa and Heero. They were well organized, approaching in pairs, darting from cover to cover, dodging his shots. At first, they probably thought it was going to be easy - the bow must have looked slow to them, used to their techno weapons as they were. But the moves of their approach had been written clearly across their formation. Trowa had easily taken down his next two targets as they darted forward. His bolts had found them half way to cover, knowing when they were going to move and where they were going to be when the deadly shots intersected their path.

The dying cries of one of his victims had turned into gurgles, ignored by both sides. The men were crouching behind the plentiful shelter in the cirque - too bad those Jishin created spells in stone, leaving plenty of small ridges, outcroppings and pillars to hide behind.

"It's just magic." The leader barked from behind a small stone wall. "Stay under cover and get closer."

There was some advantage to being stupid, Trowa reflected, readying his next shot. His men were terrified of Trowa's bow and ability to predict their movements, but the leader didn't seem to care. They were creeping towards him now, keeping the stones and broken pillars of the cirque between them and his deadly bow. They would gather in a loose ring, as close as possible, and then rush him.

Trowa quickly calculated, drew lines and patterns in his mind. He chose his spot, and planted seven bolts into the ground, in preparation.

Behind him, Heero made a startled noise, which ended in something like a pleased, if bemused, purr. Centre must have revealed another one of her secret wheels to him; their beauty, cruel and delicate as life itself, would touch and seduce even a hardened warrior like Heero. Well, Trowa reflected laconically, at least one of us is having a good time.

He loosed another shot, keeping one of the men, cursing, under the cover of a broken pillar. Slowing their approach was about as much as he could do now. He didn't spare a glance towards the other, more serious fight nearby. His heart was over there...but to kill these remaining men, he didn't need it.



---



Wufei was winning. Of course. Even Jusan's nagging voice in his head had trickled to a halt, faced with the evidence of impending victory.

Fen dodged and swung - he was relying too heavily on his weapons. Wufei didn't have any - thanks to Jusan's rather hasty patching of Shenlong -

//Yes, sorry about that. There just wasn't the time.//

But he didn't need any. Wufei melted into the moment, into the action and the motion; the sword and the flail were moving in a rhythm like the steps of a dance. The Dragon dodged them in his own time, following his own beat, getting into Fen's defences, and leaving him helpless. A quick punch to the chest plate - the strange armour gave an ominous crack and Fen fell back, tried to regain the distance that would allow him to use the weapons that were, in fact, distracting him. A real warrior, faced with someone unarmed but much faster and lither, would have discarded the bulky and lengthy sword and flail, and defended, parried and attacked by hand. Fen apparently didn't have the warrior instincts that went with the armour he wore.

Which was why he was going to lose, Wufei thought, taking a step back himself, letting Fen gather his defences again. Or else he wasn't putting his soul into this fight. Not willing to do more than keep Wufei at bay.

//Can't you just...move in and kill him?// Jusan was almost fidgeting at the back of his mind. And probably aware that his voice was completely drowned out by the song of battle blazing through Wufei's body.

The whip flickered and danced. Wufei smiled, fierce and elated, and plunged into the movement once more.

//Oh, have your fun, I guess. Heero won't be much of a challenge. The others will get him out of that circle soon enough.// Jusan sounded resigned.

Wufei didn't notice.



---



Quatre watched the lines, but he also kept an eye on reality. Fen had held off the Dragon as well as he could - as much as his temporary allies could expect. But the differences in ability and attitude were beginning to show.

The healer would once have winced and ached in sympathy, as Chang landed another blow on Fen's chest plate, already cracked previously. This time, the plate didn't ring, it simply crunched, and Fen staggered back, his body folded over the injury. The strategist that Quatre had become ignored Fen's pain, and only concentrated on the handicap a few broken ribs represented. The Dragon didn't step back this time. Black eyes watched the figure stumble. Judged the resistance to be at an end.

The lines tightened and narrowed as Quatre watched the young man take a step towards Fen, fist rising, intent on finishing off his enemy this time. A strange act of mercy, the healer noted distantly, at least in the Dragon's mind.

The patterns swirled and coalesced.

"Now." Quatre said.

Duo was already gone. On the rock, there was only Svale, looking grim, and absently holding a tattered black long coat.



---



Wufei took the last step, fist raised. Focusing on the target of his opponent's neck. A quick blow to the spine. It would take him out of the fight...probably kill him.

As his fist swung down -

- the barest warning; a feel of movement behind him -

- Wufei swung around just as pain exploded in his back.

He spun, shocked - but his arms were up in the defensive stance he'd been practicing since he could walk, one over his stomach, ready to parry a blow to the chest or abdomen, another at shoulder level, ready to parry or punch -

The latter saved his life. The knife scythed through Shenlong's energy field as if it weren't there, scored the half-plate covering his forearm, and skidded off his wrist to bite into his shoulder, instead of his throat where it had been aimed.

A reflexive pulse of energy from Shenlong hurled Wufei a dozen feet away from his attacker; he staggered as his feet touched ground, pain stitching up his entire left side. His arm curled around his body, feeling for the wound instinctively, as Shenlong started to shine its damage report in his left eye. Nothing fatal - by half an inch. Muscles damaged. Mobility reduced. What the fuck-

"You."

It was the other one, the one dressed in black. Wufei's eyes narrowed appraisingly. The long overcoat had been discarded. The figure before him was slender and lithe, dressed in a sleek outfit that hugged him from his neck to his booted feet, with high gloves cut off of the fingertips and palms - magic user, Wufei concluded quickly; he'd seen that kind of outfit before. Not a grand mage who'd rely on pure power, but someone agile, good at hand to hand, who could also send a mage-bolt stabbing into your back if you were dumb enough to turn it towards him. He was holding a black blade, smaller than a shortsword, wider than a dagger, ending in a slanted edge rather than a point. It was so black that Wufei couldn't see his blood on it, except where it gathered into thick, fat drops at the edge before falling off to splatter on the ground.

"I thought you said you weren't going to fight..." Wufei heard himself saying, an automatic distraction while he tried to get as much information as he could from the other's stance and appearance.

"Yeah. I lied. I do that." The grin was cheerful with a feral edge, like a predator smiling at its lunch.

Little prick, Wufei started to think, annoyed...when he was suddenly bowled over by a fury quite beyond what he normally allowed himself in battle. The feeling of betrayal - you lied, you lied to me! - made him choke.

//Wufei?!//

The anger was gone as quickly as it came, leaving a coppery aftertaste in his mouth and a wash of confusion in his mind. What had come over him there? The man had stabbed him in the back and he deserved to die, but Wufei, for all he fought honourably, was not stupid enough to expect his adversaries to do the same. He had no reason to be this furious. It was his fault for not keeping an eye on the creep in the first place...which raised another question...

//How on earth did he get behind you so quickly? Be careful of that one, Dragon...//

Thanks, Jusan, whatever would I do without you...

//Sarcasm does not become you, Wufei, for all that you use it a lot. How badly are you wounded?//

"Not nearly badly enough to stop me tearing that little bastard limb from limb." Wufei murmured, walking forward menacingly. He was aware of movement off to one side - the last man, the short-haired blond, was helping Fen out of the way. No matter. Wufei ignored Jusan suddenly hectoring him to finish up the first opponent with a quick blast before moving on to the second. The Dragon knew he could beat Fen any time, and the man had at least fought him honourably. Let him live, if he could and chose to.

Wufei had someone else to kill first.

The black-clad young man's smile widened. The ebony blade dipped and rose again in a mocking salute. "Shall we?"

Wufei didn't bother answering; this piece of backstabbing trash did not deserve words, only a quick disposal. But Wufei wasn't careless. He was too good a warrior for that. Besides, he was aware of how difficult it should have been for someone to get on his six and try to stick a knife through his liver without him noticing. This was a piece of trash with some skill. He stopped three arms' lengths from the man, who was waiting for him, knees slightly bent, body loose and relaxed. Wufei raised a hand, almost lazily, and sent an energy bolt ploughing through the air at his target, just to see what the latter would do.

The pest smirked and dodged, bending gracefully backward and then snapping forward again, and darting aside to avoid Wufei's grab as the Dragon closed the distance between them. Wufei struck - punch, backhand - hitting only air. Fast. Very fast. The blade was a blur of black, but it didn't dart towards him again; Wufei didn't let it distract him. He was sinking into the rhythm of this new dance, its best much quicker and more complex than the previous one. But the steps were nonetheless familiar. When the other gloved hand flashed behind the man's back, to reappear an instant later, gripping something that looked like a mass of black energy, Wufei was quite ready for it. He sneered as he dodged the mana bolt; his left arm was already up and smashing aside the blade that had cut up and across, to slice him while he was supposedly distracted by the magical attack.

Once more, that eerie blade went through Shenlong's energy shield as if through thin air, but the actual Gundanium stopped it with a clang. It scored the metal but no more, and Wufei's violent parry threw the young man's arm back. Wufei's other fist was punching towards his enemy's chest as he parried; the man writhed and twisted like a snake, but still Wufei's armoured fist connected. The blow was off center though, glancing across the ribs instead of punching them into the creature's chest cavity. The pest leapt back gracefully, but a slight wince went through his frame, proof that Wufei's knuckles had scored some damage at least. The braid had whipped out like a banner as he leapt back; Wufei could see it slither back along his opponent's spine, like a serpent rather than a rope of hair. A strange feeling flared through him - like an echo of a memory now forgotten - but he automatically dismissed it. He didn't wait for his opponent to regroup his defences, as he had for Fen. This rat deserved no such courtesy. He pressed the attack again, mercilessly.



---





Warmth spread from Quatre's hands to Fen's chest, healing torn muscle and cracked bone. The Phoenix didn't seem to notice though. He was staring at the fight a dozen meters away.

"I don't understand..." Fen muttered.

"Why Duo doesn't use the magic he's capable of, you mean?" Quatre spared a glance at the fight - while Zero did its usual number on his brain, force-feeding him information on every strike and counter strike.

"Yes. I know he's capable of teleportation. And much, much more, if he's able to do that...Why doesn't he-"

"What, use high level magic against the Dragon?" Quatre's eyes kept darting towards the cirque behind them, and he spoke absently. "Presumably because if he did that, Chang might be totally outclassed and helpless."

"...and when was this not the point of this whole deal?" Fen asked acidly.

"If Duo corners Chang, then he might summon Jusan. Game over."

"...oh." Fen sighed and rubbed his face, wincing as the movement rekindled the dull ache in his mostly healed injuries. "You mean, Maxwell is just slowing him down. Playing him."

Quatre glanced again at the battle. The Dragon had managed to catch Duo across the jaw with a backhand, though not directly enough to knock the braided man out. Duo was moving as fast as when he'd attacked Heero, and he was sweating. The smile looked forced to Quatre, who knew him fairly well by now. Though there was a feral glint in the violet-blue eyes...

"Yes, he's playing, though I don't think he's having quite as much fun as he expected, it that's any consolation. I just hope he can hold out until Heero can cast the shield. Then no more summoning of planet-destroying entities possible. At that point...well, hopefully Duo can take the Dragon down."

"You know, it may not be that easy; Dragons have been fighting magic users for centuries now." Fen muttered. "They were part of the taskforce that defeated the remaining Jishin outposts, when most had returned to Imanohone. That's the kind of power the Dragons had fifty years ago, and it's only increased since. Even Jusan considered them a threat after all. Duo may be good, but his forte seem to be tricks, surprise attacks and speed, and-"

"Well, we'll just have to hope." Even Zero couldn't offer much more than that at this point.

"I'm...sorry, Winner."

"What?" Quatre blinked and looked down at Fen, who was slumped against the stone pillar they'd been near before. He looked...dazed. Lost. He was even managing to ignore Svale, who'd popped up and was groping his thigh therapeutically. Quatre shooed her off, and kneeled next to Fen.

"Sorry?"

"I couldn't hold him off for long. He's...an exceptional fighter. And...every move I made, every defence I set up...I'd have sixty previous versions of me second-guessing them as soon as I started. It was...I couldn't- even Zero couldn't help with both my fractured mind and the fight-"

"Fen...considering you were blackmailed into this, I think you did more than enough." Quatre said firmly. "Now, we have to rely on Duo."

There was a moment's silence.

"And that's not a sentence you ever wanted to say, I bet." Svale cackled, her eyes bright as she watched the Dragon send a savage kick into Duo's legs. Quatre's answer disappeared into a horrified gasp as Duo stumbled, fell - and the Dragon pounced, fist raised to deal a blow that had the word ‘terminal' written all over it.



---



Wufei smiled in satisfaction even as he threw himself at the fallen figure - then ducked and leapt back as something flew at his face from the side. His hand was up to parry, but it didn't strike him. What-

What the fuck was that?!

Wufei stared at the tiny figure hovering in mid-air. It was as big as his fist, not counting the bat-like wings, outstretched as if it were soaring. It was a little humanoid figure, and it was - Wufei's eyes narrowed like laser sights - it appeared to be blowing a raspberry at him. When it was sure it had his attention, it started making faces, pulling a tongue like a sharp thorn at him and crossing minute, beady eyes. But it didn't seem to be able to do much more than annoy him. And distract him - the trash he'd almost felled had taken advantage of the lull in the attack, and dodged well out of harm's way again. No matter, Wufei thought, one blow and this creature would-

- A blow sending a small lump of living stone catapulting into a rock face - the clean smell of cold water and rocks and - and -

What the-...

//Wufei? Have you seen this creature before?//

He had...but he was damned if he could remember where. No matter; he'd travelled extensively and seen strange things in his short years. Must have been on some planet or other...Some weird, alien lifeform.

//It's a golem, actually. Stone brought to life by a spell. There aren't many left these days.//

There'll be one less in a minute, Wufei thought savagely. As if guessing his thoughts, the tiny creature dropped half a foot in the air and shot off at a right angle, straight towards -

"Master Duo! Are you alright?"

Figured. Something so crude, annoying and disrespectful just had to belong to that piece of trash. Duo, hm? That's right, that was the name the others had mentioned before, when they'd been holding him at the point of their weapons and ignoring Wufei. Apparently this Duo had made no friends there either. Good, they would hopefully not interfere when he finished the annoying creature and its even more annoying master.

"Imp, I toldya to stay on the sidelines," the man, Duo, drawled at the tiny thing flying near his head.

"Sorry, Master." The piece of stone mumbled.

//So it belongs to him? How strange...Well, no matter. Wufei, that Heero is still gathering energy! I don't know what those fools I sent over there are doing, but they've not stopped him yet! Ignore this creature, and go and kill the conduit, or destroy the sanctuary, or-//

If I ignore this Duo, he'll just stab me in the back again.

//...You must summon me. I could destroy them all, and the whole planet, with-//

Forget it.

//Wufei-//

No. This pest is fast, and fairly good, but he is no match for me. I will finish him in five minutes.

//But the spell-//

If worst comes to worst, I can destroy the sanctuary even after the spell is cast. That will bring down the shield, right?

//The resonance will die after awhile.// Jusan agreed, in what Wufei could only describe as a sullen tone. //But I'd rather not have to wait and take the risk-//

That's what war is about. Risk. Now...

Wufei focused again, to the exclusion of all else, including the annoyed voice in his mind.

Now...to business.

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