of Justice + Chapter 27 (cont)
Out of Sight, Out of Body
It's a pity I'm not going
to survive this, he thought privately as he 'turned' to escape into
the depths of his own mind, pursued by threads of Sharna's energy. I
really want a long talk with Uthmar about the way this world's
gods conduct themselves!
Pain burned through him as one of the tendrils reached him, but he was
ready for it this time, pushing it away along with the physical pain.
Illusion, he told himself firmly, falling deeper into himself.
Pain is part of the world, and the world is illusion, and illusion
has no place here. The only reality is my mind, alone in darkness...
=*Get back here!*= Sharna screamed, flinging more tendrils
No pain. There can be no pain... pain needs a body, and my body is
illusion, and illusion has no place here... The thought trailed off
as Wufei cleared his mind completely, sinking deeper.
Changing tactics, Sharna spun the threads out in front of Wufei's bodiless
point of view and tangled them into a net, trying to draw him back into
consciousness instead of shocking him awake. =*I'm not letting you
go!*= he snarled, starting to panic. If he killed Krashnark's
human and didn't get the extra power this bright soul would give
him, he could depend on something very nasty happening to him as soon
as Phrobus lost interest in protecting him -- and though he might think
otherwise in his more optimistic moments, deep down he knew that his father
favoured his older brother. Had always favoured him. Would always favour
him. And therefore had very little interest in protecting Sharna at the
best of times...
A mind, unlike a body, has no inherent size or shape. A point of view
would be a literal point if the person concerned didn't have a strong
mental image of their own body to provide a form. Wufei, falling deeper
into trance, wasn't just forgetting his body; he was actively rejecting
'Seeing' him start to slide through the net, Sharna panicked for real...
For an instant, Wufei's disembodied mind was almost crushed between two
magics, the chain-spell keeping him isolated within his body and the improvised
web hauling him up out of trance, before something gave and he felt himself
spin free. Instead of the quiet, dark peace he'd expected, there was a
sudden crashing flood of sensation, light and sound and a strange sort
of pressure coming from concentrations of energy, disorienting him; then
he steadied, bobbing like a tethered balloon, and found himself looking
down at his own blank face from about three feet up.
If he'd had a throat to do it with, he would have swallowed. He pulled
me all the way out?! Well... that didn't go as either of us planned!
He could see himself-- his mental self, he supposed was an appropriate
term, lifting translucent hands that glowed greenish-white and looking
wonderingly at them. Sharna's nauseating energy was everywhere, too, a
darker, uglier green than he was; a faint lattice woven through the walls
of the chamber, a solid mass seething around the stone image looming over
the altar, fading tangled strands falling away from his disembodied self,
and a stronger concentration spreading from the chain around his neck
to surround his body, looking like matted cobwebs with a ragged hole torn
in them. The 'tethered balloon' thought had been surprisingly apt, because
his floating self was tethered to his body by a thin silver tendril, threaded
through the hole in the cobweb-spell... which was closing up as he watched.
He had barely a second to realise and feel uneasy before it sealed itself,
pinching off the shining tendril and setting him adrift.
I see, he thought numbly, watching the drifting tendril as it shrank,
seeming to evaporate. The spell was designed to cut me off from any
links between myself and things outside my body... so it did. I might
have been able to get back into my body if I'd tried before the hole sealed,
Somebody leaned into his field of vision, peering closely into his body's
face, and he recognised the priest, looking seriously agitated. He couldn't
help feeling a tinge of satisfaction at that. Ha. That's ruffled his
composure, finally... hm. I seem to have achieved my aim, even if this
isn't quite the way I was trying to do it!
He bobbed higher and turned slightly, moving so that he could see more
of the chamber. The soldiers don't look happy, either-- there's Vaijon!
And the others! They weren't killed!
The sight of Karthan brought the subject of his lost links to the dwarf
and Nataku back to the forefront of his mind. If I could just talk
to him again... were the links destroyed, or just temporarily blocked?
Can I re-establish them?
A faint tugging feeling made him focus his attention back onto himself,
and he raised an insubstantial eyebrow as three hair-fine threads spun
out of his glowing self. It seems the desire is the act, in this state--
wait. Three? Frowning, he watched one of the threads drift tentatively
towards Karthan, while the other two stretched out towards one of the
walls, looping and tangling around each other. I presume Nataku is
in that direction, he thought, puzzled, but why two threads?
His musing was cut short as the first thread reached Karthan and immediately
snapped taut, thickening. --fei! Wufei! Please, damn it, hear me, can
you hear, are you still--
Karthan! Are you all right? I--
Wufei?! A momentary rush of emotion, relief and joy and hope and
fear all jumbled together, and then it was as if Karthan had bundled five
minutes' worth of explanation into a single mass and thrown it at him.
--use the link lend me your power I've borrowed your healing in the
past I should be able to borrow your strength! I can borrow strength break
free do something at least distract them buy time--
--and everything blurred as the link pulled tighter and snapped him into
Curse them, why did they have to stand up again? Vaijon fretted,
craning his neck and stretching up on tiptoe. I can't see, damn
it! Sir Wufei stopped moving again and now they're all panicking but I
can't tell why--
Karthan jerked violently next to him, rattling the chains binding him
to the wall, and there was a faint crackling sound, like a pinecone thrown
into a fire. Vaijon glanced down, opening his mouth automatically to ask
if something was wrong, and then flinched back as the dwarf shuddered,
jittering lines of white energy crawling over his skin.
"...Did it work?" he whispered after a tense pause, when nothing more
seemed to be happening. "Are you borrowing his strength?" Can you get
us out of this?
The dwarf looked up at him, breathing heavily, and Vaijon gulped as he
saw the same greenish-white fire burning in his eyes that he'd seen in
the demon's. He seemed dazed, blinking, but recovered quickly and smirked.
"Karthan didn't borrow my strength," he said quietly, voice not sounding
quite right. "He borrowed me."
* * * * *
"Well, I know this is going to sound kind of flaky... but what about Lady
Everyone else in the room stared at Duo, and he almost snickered out loud
at their wide-eyed looks of blank incomprehension. Goldfish, he
decided, that's what they look like. Really surprised goldfish!
After a couple of breaths, Quatre recovered his composure and cleared
his throat. "Duo... she's one of the bad guys!"
"Technically, no," Duo argued seriously. "She just wasn't on our side.
Look, OZ sucked, I'm not going to argue about that, but the fact is that
Kushrenada had perfectly good motives. He wanted system-wide peace, and
we can sure as hell agree with that; it was his methods that we were arguing
"Turning the colonies into heavily-guarded prison states was a bad idea,
yes," Trowa muttered dryly.
"My point is," the braided teen continued doggedly, "everything
Une did, she did for Treize. Yes, she was so wound up in the idea of getting
results for him that she went over even his limits fairly often, but I
think that was usually when he hadn't made the limits clear. So... he
wanted system-wide peace. This new organisation is going to be working
for system-wide peace, and you bet it's going to have clearly defined
limits! If we presented this to her as 'what Kushrenada would have wanted',
I bet she'd jump at the chance to continue his dream, and we'll never
find anyone else who'll be so determined to succeed--"
A slight pause and minute widening of Duo's eyes were the only warning
the others had that something was wrong before he screamed and curled
forwards into a ball, wrapping his arms around his chest. The scream trailed
off into a pained whimper, and tears leaked from the corners of his eyes.
Heero grabbed his boyfriend into his arms. "Duo! What's wrong?!" He only
vaguely noticed Quatre slumping forwards in his chair, fist clenched over
his heart, before Duo's body jerked and his right hand spasmed, hitting
the Japanese teen in the jaw.
"...no, 'Fei, no, 'Fei, no, 'Fei..." Duo chanted breathlessly, eyes glazed
"Heero! What's wrong with him?" Relena asked anxiously, scattering folders
over the floor as she scrambled out of her chair and moved to Duo's other
side. "Should I get the doctor?"
"Hurts," Quatre gasped, pressing his face into Trowa's chest as the taller
boy supported him. "Pain... not Duo's... Make it stop... Wufei?!"
Suddenly, Duo calmed and relaxed, eyes fluttering closed as he gasped
for breath. Heero carefully pulled him out of his tight curl, hands searching
for any physical sign of what had happened but finding nothing except
a few muscle tremors and a fast heartbeat, slowing down now.
"Duo?" he asked shakily, cupping Duo's cheek gently. "What happened? Are
you all right?"
The braided boy's eyes opened slightly and he raised his hand to Heero's
face, returning the caress before letting it fall back to the bed. "S'okay..."
he whispered to his stunned boyfriend, lying limp and apparently exhausted.
"Somethin' hurt 'Fei real bad, but it went away... an' he didn't. I could
still feel him for just a second after the pain stopped, an' he felt better.
'Fei's gonna be okay..." His eyes closed again, and his breathing slowed
Heero frowned, watching Duo until he was sure he really had fallen asleep,
then turned to look at the other people in the room. Relena looked thoroughly
lost. Quatre had straightened and was rubbing his chest, relief and confusion
clear on his face. A concerned Trowa hovered over his lover, hands lightly
stroking down his upper arms in reassurance.
"Heero," Relena asked softly, touching his arm, "what just happened? I
"Yes, Heero, what did happen?" Quatre snapped, blue eyes locked
on Duo's recumbent form.
Heero sighed. "I'm not exactly sure," he replied, brushing Duo's hair
off of his face. "Duo had a dream last night..."
He was interrupted as the door flew open and Dr. Modi and two nurses rushed
"What has happened? We heard a scream!" the doctor exclaimed, rushing
to the bedside.
Heero shook his head, trying desperately to think of some sort of convincing
explanation, fast. I certainly can't tell him that Duo is either hallucinating
or receiving mental messages from our lost friend! He opened his
mouth, not really sure what was going to come out, but was saved from
having to answer as Relena spoke up.
"Duo had a nightmare, doctor. We were talking, and I suppose he dozed
off. It's probably from all of the stress he's been under lately... the
accident, the surgery... He really isn't comfortable in medical environments,
you know," she said with just the right mix of concern and calm, smiling
at the older man.
"Hmmm..." the doctor replied, checking Duo's pulse and peering closely
into his now-peaceful face. "That is understandable, yes. His pulse is
good, there's no fever..." He turned to Heero. "If young Mr. Maxwell has
any problem sleeping because of further nightmares, let the duty nurse
know, Mr. Yui. I'll leave orders on his chart for a mild sleeping aid
to be administered on request, just in case."
With a nod, he ushered the nurses out the door, closing it behind himself
as he left.
Heero sighed and flashed Relena a small, thankful smile. Relena smiled
back, then repeated the question Heero was hoping no one would return
"Okay, Heero. What the hell just happened?!"
Heero ran a hand through his messy hair. "Duo thinks Wufei is alive in
some sort of alternate dimension, and that they were in contact last night
as he dreamed." He turned slightly to glare at Quatre, remembering how
Duo had reacted to the Arab pilot's earlier stubborn insistence that Wufei
had to be dead. "And I believe him."
"Heero, that's... not possible," Relena said, shaking her head. "Alternate
dimensions are science fiction! Surely you and Duo don't really..."
"Yes, we do," the Japanese teen said stubbornly. "Space colonies and feasible
energy weapons were considered 'science fiction' not all that long ago.
According to the doctors, there's one particular theory they accept regarding
alternate dimensions. They explained it as being like a pair of trousers
with an infinite number of legs. The massive amounts of energy released
when that experimental weapon backfired blew a temporary hole in our leg,
then pulled Wufei out. According to their theory, he would end up in a
similar dimension to the one he left, so he'd be able to survive, and
according to my theory, if some of that energy stayed with him
it might act as a connection back here, making it plausible for him to
be able to contact this dimension, and Duo, who he has strong ties to."
Heero turned his glare on the blonde girl, daring her to argue.
"But--" she persisted.
"No... it has to be true," Quatre said, awe in his voice. "That wasn't
Duo's pain! It felt like Wufei."
"'Felt like Wufei'?" Heero asked, blinking at the unexpected support.
"All the people I can feel are different," Quatre explained, still rubbing
his chest. "It's easiest to express as flavours, I think. Trowa is like...
melon, cool and refreshing. You're like strong peppermint with a metallic
undertone. Duo is complicated, bitter chocolate and sweet orange and a
little salt. Wufei is completely different to him -- warm spice
and musk -- and that's what I was 'feeling' just now. And even though
it was strong, it was tenuous, as if very far away or going through a
"Which fits the 'alternate dimension' theory," Trowa put in quietly. Seeing
Relena's confused expression, he explained further. "If you think of Duo
as a receiver, rebroadcasting the 'signal' from Wufei, it makes sense
that it would be dampened. Like the difference between sitting in the
front row of the audience at the orchestra, and listening to the same
musical piece on a stereo." He shrugged. "It really is the only explanation,
unless you want to blame it on both Duo and Quatre hallucinating the same
thing at the same time, without the benefit of mind-altering drugs. That
seems a lot less likely to me than the Doctors' whole 'Trousers of Time'
theory... no matter how confused we were the first time they tried to
Relena opened and closed her mouth a few times, speechless, then shook
her head and threw up her hands in surrender. "All right... I'm outnumbered
and out-argued, and... well, I want to believe it too, I suppose! So.
We have reason to believe that Chang Wufei is in some alternate dimension,
alive and, uh, at least semi-well and probably getting better."
"Well put," Trowa said dryly, going down on one knee to help her pick
up her scattered documents.
"It's rather a vague reassurance, but since we're hardly going to get
postcards I suppose it will have to do to take that particular load off
all our minds," she muttered, sounding a little stressed. "And I really
don't think it's a good idea for me to think about this too much until
after I've had some time to let it sink in... slowly. So, gentlemen, if
you think we can still concentrate, shall we finish hammering out these
ideas -- quietly, without waking Duo? I have to have something
to present as a middle-ground view in the council session tomorrow..."
* * * * *
Are you all right? Wufei thought urgently, feeling oddly off-balance
in the shorter, heavier body. Karthan? Are you there?!
...Yes, came the tentative answer, and he closed his-- Karthan's--
the body's eyes, feeling immensely relieved.
Gods, I thought I'd knocked you out of your body when I slammed in!
I think you just knocked me further in, or something, Karthan
replied, seemingly regaining his composure. You know, if you'd asked
me yesterday what I thought the possible consequences of our link might
be, this would not have been one of them. And may I say how very
glad I am that you're not dead?
I very nearly was, popped out before Wufei could smother the thought,
and he felt the dwarf's shock as the closeness between their minds let
the rest of the information leak over, telling him exactly what Wufei
had been about to do to himself. Cursing inwardly, he tried to close off
his thoughts, with limited success. He could feel Karthan's solid, warm
personality pressed close against his, like Duo's presence next to him
in bed on a cold night when the memories bred nightmares and one or both
of them needed company, and there was a flicker of surprise and embarrassment
as that thought made it across too. Then a sympathetic wince at his
Sorry, he thought curtly, angry at himself at this sudden lack
of control, breaching his mental privacy. (--the only sort of privacy
there is sometimes in a close-knit clan or a small safehouse and I value
mine so much--) He was uncomfortably aware of the few flickers of
emotion and image that were trickling across to him from Karthan's thoughts;
there was nothing clear yet but he was sure that would change, and the
thought of listening to someone else's private thoughts was almost as
bad as having someone else listen to his. I don't think I can go back
to my body, but my link to Nataku is back now. I can go there and use
our link to loan you--
No, Karthan interrupted firmly, nervous but determined. This
is going to need everything you've got, not just brute strength, and I
have no idea of how to use your other powers, like that armour and the
Neither do I! It just happens! (--without thinking it feels
good somehow but it scares me sometimes--)
And what if it doesn't 'just happen' for me? Besides which,
I'm no better than average at fighting unarmed. If you stay in my body
and use it to fight, I think we stand a better chance of survival. (--if
I fail we die my fault--) We can try to keep our thoughts separate, and
just... do our best to ignore whatever we can't hold in. (--seen some
already in dreams -- honourable man trust him keep his secrets--)
All right, Wufei thought back slowly, convinced more by the 'leaked'
thoughts than by what Karthan had said intentionally. I'll try. (--didn't
happen when we were together in Nataku wonder why--)
You've got a point, that is strange. Maybe because we were both still
linked to our own bodies? Like having an anchor.
Try harder, Wufei requested grimly, and took a firm grip
on the chains holding them to the wall.
He'd hoped that one quick yank would break the chains loose from their
attachment point, leaving him/them with a short length hanging from each
wrist, useful as an improvised weapon until he got his hands on something
better; instead, the stone wall cracked and the ringbolt both chains were
fastened to pulled out. Keeping one eye on the agitated group at the other
end of the chamber, watching for the first signs that what he was doing
had been noticed, he frowned as he picked it up, intending to twist the
links free -- nearly dropped it as the frown felt strange, distracting
him -- caught it again, fumbled as he tried to get the right grip with
shorter, wider hands than he was used to, swore mentally--
Karthan's mental laughter brought him up short. Don't complain! I'd
rather have a couple of fumbles getting loose than not be able to get
loose at all!
Wufei grinned sheepishly, and nearly dropped the ringbolt again. Your
beard tickles every time I move my-- your-- every time I change
Not once you get used to it, it doesn't. (--hahaha--)
I have no intention of staying here long enough to get used to it!
Taking a deep breath, resisting a hysterical urge to laugh as the damned
beard tickled him again, he wrenched the ringbolt out of shape
and pulled the chains loose. "It's a start," he muttered, and blinked
as the voice came out strangely, Karthan's deeper pitch blended with his
own quicker, sharper delivery.
"Uh... Karthan?" Jens said tentatively, staring at him wide-eyed. "How
Only Vaijon knew what I was planning, Karthan informed him quickly.
The others were too far away to reach with a whisper and I didn't want
to be overheard--
Understood. Wufei opened his mouth to explain, realised exactly
how odd anything he could say would sound -- anything brief, anyway, and
he didn't have time for anything detailed -- and closed it again.
"Vaijon, you explain," he muttered, stretching up to reach the manacles
on the blond knight-probationer's wrists. "I think I'm going to be busy--
Gods damn it, don't I have enough problems with being short at the best
Hey, I'm tall by dwarven standards! Karthan shot back. (--used
to get in trouble for growing out of my shirts and now he wishes I'd done
Vaijon coughed, face colouring. "Here," he said, voice trembling with
suppressed laughter, and slid down the wall into a crouch, bracing one
leg for Wufei/Karthan to use as a step. He grunted slightly as the dwarf's
not inconsiderable weight came down on his thigh, but held steady. Jens's
explanation was delayed again for him to watch in fascination as Karthan's
stubby fingers pried carefully at the thick iron cuffs, slowly bending
the edges up far enough for him to get a secure grip and snap the lock
without bruising Vaijon's arm. "Torframos," he swore softly, "it's just
like watching my father peel the rind off a cheese!"
"Explain, Vaijon, before Jens has a heart attack," Wufei said pointedly,
snapping the second lock and hopping down to the ground. "If I do it,
it's going to sound like I'm speaking in the third person, and it'll be
An alarmed shout came from behind Wufei/Karthan, and Vaijon's head snapped
up to look, awe and laughter vanishing from his expression. "I'll explain,
and find some way to get the others loose," he said, looking down at his
burned, useless hand with a frustrated grimace. "You have something else
to worry about..."
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