Deliveryman + Part 3Remember what I said about the guys being the best group of friends I could've asked for? I underestimated them. I watched them pull everything together that night, amazed that they had all just dropped everything and came to help me without a second thought.
We fell back into the rhythm we had mastered during the war. Quatre was going over his plan step by step with Heero. Old stone face sat and nodded, interjecting only when he had a question, or an objection to a detail in the plan. I smiled, Heero's old ideals of "acceptable losses" had changed quite a bit since the war. No losses were acceptable as far as I had been concerned, and here was the king of self-detonation saying exactly that. Funny how people can change.
Wufei sat completely absorbed in the blue print on the screen before him. He had his sword strapped across his back, and a duffle full of guns and ammo at his feet. Subtlety was never one of Wufei's strong suits. I smiled and turned to look at Trowa. He was carefully securing a belt of throwing knives with a practiced hand. Catherine must've given him some lessons. Not a bad idea, considering how many she's thrown at him over the years. I noticed that the majority of the blades were blunt tipped and dull, but that the first three on his left side were not.
Trowa saw me looking at them and he gave me a half smile, "You never know when you might need a real blade for something. You know cutting bonds, alarms, rope . . . And other things."
I smiled back, "Going in with nothing but knives, what will you do if they are out of range?"
"I have more than knives, but if I'm out of range," he smiled, "then it's your problem."
Trowa tossed me a black satchel, one I hadn't seen since the last days of the war. My jaw dropped in disbelief as I ran my hands over the oh so familiar black leather. A quick check confirmed what I had suspected, the bag had never been opened. I had been a wee bit paranoid during the war years and I booby-trapped everything I owned to make sure nothing of mine would fall into enemy hands. The battered satchel was my stealth opps kit, and I had been very proud of it contents. In the years after then war I had never been able to replace all it's contents to my satisfaction.
"Where did you find this?"
Trowa smile broadened, "I didn't. Yuy gave it to me to give to you. I don't know how he got it. We didn't try to open it."
I chuckled and removed the cross from around my neck. With a flourish the made the performer chuckle, I slid the end of the cross into the top of the lock and then entered the code. Shinigami once again had his bag of tricks, and the timing could not have been better. I smiled at my old friend as I pulled my favorite toy out of the bag.
"Is that what I think it is?" Trowa whistled.
"Yep," I said proudly, "It's a 9 mm Berretta with extended handle to hold 25 rounds instead of the standard 15 rounds." I turned the gun over in my hands, happy to have it back. I had painted it flat black years ago so that the gun would not reflect any light on night missions. "Comes complete with silencer and optional laser sight."
"You do realize that we are not supposed to kill any one don't you?" Trowa raised an eyebrow at me.
"That's the best part," I grinned mischievously, pulling out two ammo clips. "The silver clip here holds stopper rounds. It basically shoots a plastic slug that expands in flight and disables the target without killing them. The black clip holds my Shinigami rounds, lead hollow tip rounds that do more damage going out then they do going in."
"Do us a favor and stick with the silver clips. Commander Une would have Heero's head if you do too much 'damage.'"
"And we don't want that to happen." I dropped the black clips back in the bag and loaded a silver clip in. "So tell me Trowa, How did you end up here?" I asked him as I went through the rest of the bag. "Did Heero call you too?"
"I was visiting Quatre," he replied with a faint smile. I raised an eyebrow at him and his smile widened.
"Not how you planned on spending your time off, hm?" I asked as I holstered the gun and accepted some of his extra blunted throwing knives. I gave him an apologetic look. "Sorry about this." His smile changed into a grin and he reached down to tug on my braid.
"Duo, as Heero would say, quit being a baka. You needed us to help you get those kids out. There's nothing to feel sorry for."
Trowa and I were the first in. We entered through the roof on this visit, just to insure there would be no surprises waiting at my last entry point. Wufei and Heero would enter the building when we reached our goal. Quatre was our 'eye in the sky', which meant that I needed to get him access to their computer system - the same one I had crashed not so long before. It wouldn't be difficult, I had left myself a 'back door'. Once I got in the system would work for me and no one else.
The building was still in chaos- luckily for us- and we managed to get in completely undetected. We shimmied through what seemed like miles of vents making our way back to the control center. It was there we found our first problem.
"Were there this many guards here the last time you came in?" Trowa asked as we looked down into the room.
"No, "I replied grimly, "There was only one guard, and I slipped in when he left for the bathroom."
"Well, there seems to be five of them now, and they are packing a lot more firepower then we are."
A mischievous grin crossed my face, "don't worry Trowa, I've got a plan." He rolled his eyes at me.
I opened my satchel and retrieved what I needed from it's depths. The small air compressed gun held ten tranquilizer darts, and enough CO2 to fire them accurately up to 30 feet. It took me thirty seconds and six darts, but the room was secure. While I got to work on the computer, Trowa tied the sleeping guards up. I patched Quatre into the security mainframe and registered him as the only authorized user.
"Oh-Four, this is Oh-Two, do you have visual?"
Quatre's blond head popped up on the monitor, "I have visual. Any trouble?"
"Not yet," I grinned, "but send in the boys and we'll cause some."
Once they were in, our plan kicked into high gear. Trowa and I hurried down to where they kept the kids. Quatre guided us down the empty corridors, warning us well in advance of the coming guards. Upstairs I heard an explosion, and from that point on Quatre told us the buildings defenders had all moved up to deal with the attackers above. That just left us with the slavers down below. I knew one of the cells had a huge deep pit in the bottom - perfect for what we had in mind. I left Trowa to watch the hall as I lowered the rope ladder and made my way into the pit.
I felt my heart sink when I reached the bottom and realized that this pit was empty. I had seen dozens of abused and shacked kids in this pit, but now they were gone. They must have been moved, and recently. I quickly climbed to the top and grabbed Trowa.
"The kids are gone," I growled.
"The children in a holding pen up near the roof." Quatre's voice came over the headset. "I think they are awaiting a transport."
"Dammit," I swore, releasing Trowa. "Why didn't you tell us that the kids weren't down here?"
"Because I only just now located them." The blond's strained voice replied. "Get your butts upstairs now, One and Five are getting more then they bargained for."
"Tell them we're are on the way, and to keep pressing forward."
We ran like two men possessed. There were guards everywhere, some mobile, some not so. Trowa and I were less then gentle to any guard we met. We knew the clock was ticking, and we had no time to spare. Up in the hall ahead we heard the sounds of a firefight. I knew it had to be where they had Wufei and Heero pinned down.
The chill of Shinigami settled over me as I drew my gun and rounded the corner at a full sprint. In that instant, the world seemed to slow down to a crawl. My trained eye took in the situation matter of factly.
Wufei and Heero were pressed back on either side of the hall in a pair of recessed hallway doorways. At the other end of the hall a small barricade had been erected and the defenders were firing from behind it. My memory told me the holding area for the kids was just several rooms further down the hall that veered off to the left. There was only one option, the barricade must be crossed.
I maintained my headlong sprint down the corridor firing at anything I saw moving ahead of me. Trowa was right on my heels and I heard Wufei yell over the com at us. A bullet whizzed past my ear, and my gun responded in kind, the stopper round smashing into a guard's shoulder and spinning him. The next two shots were even wilder as I covered another ten feet of corridor.
One of the bastards leaped up over the barrier and headed towards me. I felt metal whiz by my head for the second time in as many seconds, but this time it came from behind me. The hilt of one of Trowa's knives struck the man square on the bridge of his nose, breaking it. It was followed by a second dulled blade that smashed into the man's gun hand.
I cleared the last few feet and hurtled over the barricade. I felt something caress my side and my gun spoke once more. At this range I knew I would break the man's ribs with the shot, but I was beyond caring. All the guards were down and we were clear. Trowa landed next to me and we continued our mad dash for the kids. We arrived at the holding pens to find that the kids, all the kids, were still corralled and awaiting export. A few more guards had to be taken out before I let out a sigh and allowed Shinigami to return to void until I needed him again.
"You are a crazy bastard, do you know that?" Wufei asked me when he and Heero caught up to us. Trowa and I were freeing the kids as quickly as we could, explaining the situation.
"Me?" I gave him my best innocent look. He rolled his eyes.
Wufei and Heero played cleanup, going through the building, with Quatre's help, and capturing the remaining guards. I stayed near the kids, taking out any guards that happened my way. We left Trowa in charge of watching the prisoners while we rounded them all up into one room. I had managed to catch another guard and was duck-walking him to Trowa's cell about the same time Heero and Wufei showed up with a group of their prisoners. Most of them were in bad shape- limping, bruised, and having to carry other guards who were completely knocked out. Wufei and Heero tossed them into the cell and I had to laugh.
"Police brutality?" I asked.
"They resisted arrest," Wufei raised an eyebrow at me.
The noise behind the cell door rose for a moment and Trowa shook his head. He pulled a canister out of his backpack, yanked out the pin and tossed it in the cell. The noise immediately stopped.
"Knockout gas," he said in response to my look.
"If you gentlemen are finished?" Quatre's voice came over our coms. "We still have a few more stragglers and the children are getting nervous without Oh-two there."
Une arrived a few hours later. Heero met her at the gate and her squad swept the place. We had captured most of the guards, and the ringleaders were confined at the top of the building.
"Excellent work," she said to us as her squad took the prisoners out. A group of medics was already with the kids.
"Thank you Commander," Wufei responded. Her eyes swept over the prisoners thoughtfully.
"They look a bit roughed up."
"They resisted arrest," Heero said without a trace of expression on his face.
"Ah. Well then." She turned that gaze on me and I knew that the civilian lecture was coming. "Mr. Maxwell, you do realize that we strongly discourage civilians against taking justice into their own hands?"
"Of course, you are no ordinary civilian." Une smiled like a cat that had just eaten a very large canary. It made me very, very nervous. "Agent Yuy said that you don't want to work for the Preventers as an agent, is that correct?"
"Yes ma'am. I'm not very good at following orders." Une's smile widened and I was definitely creeped out.
"So, you're happy being a deliveryman?"
"Good. I'm glad to hear it." I blinked. This conversation was definitely odd. "You know of course, Mr. Maxwell, that private citizens are discouraged from taking the law into their own hands? That it could be considered against the law?"
"Uh, yeah," I considered running.
"I would hate to have to imprison a fine citizen such as yourself, Mr. Maxwell." Ah hah. Now I see what she's getting at.
"The Preventers can't be everywhere, Commander." I tried. To my surprise, she nodded in agreement.
"No, they can't. But I am beginning to see that a deliveryman can be." She arched one of her eyebrows at me. "You wouldn't be adverse to taking on a - delivery- for the Preventers now and again would you? And in return, we could forget about little incidents like these?"
"I suppose I could." I admit it. The woman could outfox me any day of the week. This I hadn't seen coming.
"Good. Please continue to use Agent Yuy as your liaison with our office." Commander Une gave me one last wicked grin and strode away.
Quatre joined me as I stood gazing after the Commander with what had to be one hell of an entertaining expression on my face. Quatre looked highly amused.
"So, Duo," he touched my shoulder and I turned to look at him. "Looks like your business is getting a new sideline."
"Looks like it," I agreed.
"Good." His smile widened and I wondered what the hell he had up his sleeve. "I might have a job or two for you as well."
Oh good lord. I looked away from Quatre and towards Heero who was talking with Wufei and a few other Preventers. I briefly considered strangling him. This was his fault after all. He looked up at me, feeling my glare, and gave me a mischievous grin of his own.
He owed me for this!
[part 2] [part 4] [back to Merula's fic]