NOTE: see part 1 for notes, warnings
AUTHOR: shira

Papillion + Part 17

The first two shuttles had been taken into custody as planned, and were being held at gunpoint, also as planned. The two commanding agents, Marks and Stimmler, were attempting to negotiate with the Alliance leaders, although unsuccessfully, still as planned, as the rest of the officers were disarmed and lead away from the entrance hanger and further into the base. When the large group of Preventers and Alliance soldiers disappeared through the hanger doors, four other officers who had been hiding in the shuttles appeared, easily overwhelming the few guards that had been left in the hanger after the diversion. With the two soldiers being held and two Preventer units guarding the doors from the hanger into the base, a signal was sent to the other shuttles that the coast was clear and everything was proceeding according to plan.

Within minutes, the second group of shuttles was docking inside the near-deserted hanger of the Lunar base, officers rushing to assemble before their commanding agents, equipment in hand and ready to gain control of the base through whatever means necessary. Five minutes time was all it took for the men and women to gather and once they were all accounted for, they set off, unit by unit, to explore the further regions of the base and surround the remaining Alliance soldiers.

As they all moved off, Heero craned his neck around to search for a sight of Duo, and he found him leading his own unit in the opposite direction across the floor of the hanger to gain access to a second entrance to the main part of the base. Duo had been searching out a glimpse of Heero as well, and for s split second their eyes met across the busy hanger, but with danger in the air, that split second was all they could afford. Before anyone else would even realize what the men were looking at, they had turned their gazes away from each other, each satisfied that the other was ready and able to do what needed doing. Then leading his unit into the corridor to the mobile suit hanger, Heero lost sight of his partner for good.

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As per their assignments, Heero's unit was to enter the mobile suit hanger and begin by rounding up any of the Alliance guards that might be there, and then follow through by one-by-one deactivating the mobile suits through removal of their main celonoids -- a big job for ten people to do, but it was a necessary precaution that needed doing if they wanted to take control of the base. The suits had to be rendered unusable, for everybody's safety, and removal of the celonoid was the easiest way to achieve that. Within no time, two officers had their guns on the hanger guards as Heero and the eight remaining officers began to one-by-one climb the rows of gundanium mobile suits, each time descending with a celonoid. The officers guarding over the Alliance soldiers pushed them forward, their guns aimed and ready, making the soldiers collect all the celonoids in big plastic bags while officers dropped one after the other their way.

On the other end of the base, at the back of the mining and manufacturing plant, Duo's unit, along with a second unit, had the factory workers confined as officers began shutting down the operation. Wufei's unit had moved on to try to find whatever information systems were at work at the base, and they were to hach the computers and harvest the information, including whatever they could find of mobile suit plans and blueprints. In the factory area, the mine workers were lined up along one wall where some Preventers officers had their weapons pointed at them, and Duo and the rest of the men scurried from machine to machine, aided by the factory foreman held at gunpoint, powering down everything in the large, warehouse-like room. Slowly the deafening noises of the mining and manufacturing operation began to subside as the last of the machinery was shut down and it wasn't long before silence could be heard echoing through the chamber. Their mission complete, Duo stood with his unit, who guarded the Alliance men, waiting for his next command via the handheld radio hung on his belt. The command would be one of two, and he grew impatient waiting to know which.

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They wouldn't budge. Freedom Alliance leaders stood their ground, maintaining that they would rather die defending the base and their cause than let a bunch of "space police" take them to Earth, where they were positive they would not be heard. They had the factory. They had the mobile suits. They had ammunition. They also held the guns in the faces of the Preventer decoy units, thinking for a little while that the twenty or so people in front of them were all that was there. Then one of their own came bursting into the room and tipped them off.

"There are more of them! Dozens more! They're shutting down the factory!" The man's face was sweat and grime covered, one of the men in the pit of the ore mine, working himself to the bone for what he believed in when the raid happened, and he'd somehow managed to sneak away to warn the leaders. "They have all the rest of us at gunpoint!" For a little while it seemed to be a standoff, both groups eyeing each other tensely, but as it is usually the case, people who feel they have nothing to lose rarely act with caution. One of the Freedom soldiers raised his weapon to the temple of one of the Preventer officers in a very convincing threat that the Freedom Alliance was not about to let the officers get away with anything. For a few minutes, all time seemed to stop as neither Preventer nor soldier seemed to know what to do next, or who would make the next move, which could undoubtedly end some lives. Then at that moment, standing purposely behind two other officers to partially hide him, agent Riley decided that it was time. He carefully bent his long, middle finger down across his palm to press the inconspicuous button on his wristband -- the warning signal that would turn the raid into a full-fledged war if an officer was even as much as scratched. Within a split second of him touching the button, the command from shuttle 2 could be heard over each of the officer's radios in the room, as well as everywhere else in the building.

"All units, we are assuming 'Plan B,' I repeat, we are assuming Plan B. Please proceed immediately with Plan B. Time is...T minus thirty minutes and counting." Startled and momentarily confused, the party holding the decoy units at bay hesitated, and as they did more Preventer officers burst into the room and the bullets began to fly.

"Shit, shit /SHIT!/" Duo said under his breath, understanding now that negotiations were apparently not happening, or that the Alliance had decided to try to play desperado with the captive Preventer units. Plan B had been instated. "You heard the man! Everybody! Plan B!" Agent Maxwell sprang into action, yanking the backpack from his back as every other officer was doing, and they prepared for Plan B -- destroy the Lunar Base. The directives, as decided by the Nation leaders, was to negotiate, and if that failed, to destroy the base, including all machinery and mobile suits. There was going to be a bombing party at the Lunar base, and the Preventers were the unexpected hosts. They had exactly thirty minutes from the time of the command to do what they had to do before explosive charges started going off.

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Within minutes, the Lunar base was alive with a flurry of activity. Heero's unit, after hearing the command to proceed with Plan B, destroy base, was to seek out the first two Preventer units and get them and the ones holding them back to the shuttles, and they set off to do that immediately.

Appointing a few officers beside himself though, Heero remained behind to begin planting charges in and around the army of mobile suits that would be set off by remote once all Preventer personnel had been accounted for. After barking a few orders to the rest of his unit, Heero went to work with the others, tossing explosives from his pack into the open and waiting cockpits of the mobile suits one by one.

Preventer officers rushed in every which direction, hastily planting bombs and explosives as they went, but remaining orderly and calm at the same time. They had been heavily trained for events such as this, and every officer knew his place and duty to get the job done like a well-oiled machine. Then satisfied that the entire hanger would go up in a fireball upon activating the remote charges, Heero rounded up his few officers and got them out of the room. He ordered them to make themselves useful by helping the rest of the unit in getting the decoy units safely back to the shuttles, then made tracks himself.

After the rest of the team had disappeared, Heero went to work the way he preferred working, quietly, secretly and alone. His jaw steeled shut like a bear trap, his eyes piercing through the dim light of little-used corridors, Heero made his way almost instinctively through the halls of the base, planting his seeds of mass destruction, now explosives with timers, as he went. From somewhere in the distance, Heero could hear the sound of gunshots as his unit stormed the area where the decoy units were being held. It quickly began to sound like a small war all its own had been started wherever the officers were, and for a split second, Heero acknowledged that there was a possibility that a few of them would not be going home. Then a glimpse of Duo flashed into his thought, and as he wondered if the other man was alright, the pounding in his head started. /Finish the job!/ Heero clamped his eyes closed for a moment to clear his vision. You can't worry about anyone else. If they can't get out, it's not your problem. You have only to finish the job! THAT'S your responsibility -- nothing else.

Breathing heavily, he opened his eyes, then gathered up his backpack and continued on his way, thoughts of the other man long since washed away by the waves of pain radiating through his cranium.

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At the other side of the base, Duo's unit, along with the other two remaining units, were scurrying as well, planting all the explosives they had all over the mobile suit manufacturing factory. Officers ran in every direction, finding the beams that supported the structure and fixing bombs to them at their weakest points to guarantee a collapse. Time seemed to be ticking by in slow motion, yet when Duo checked his watch, twenty-four minutes had already flashed by him. There were only six minutes left before explosions would begin rocking the back of the base and the factory, and it was looking to be time to get everyone out. He had yet to see either Heero or Wufei, but it hadn't begun to concern him yet as he worried about getting his unit out of the base.

From the end of a corridor leading to a further section of the base, Duo called out to his unit, "Five minutes people! Everybody! Get the hell back to the shuttles, NOW!" Officers began fleeing as he yelled, many of them having gone already, keeping the time with their own stopwatches. Then as the last few disappeared through the corridor to the hanger, Duo went in the other direction, giving himself a scant four minutes to make sure that no one was left behind before making a mad dash for the shuttles, which would be safe until the mobile suits were blown up by remote.

"Three minutes, forty! Anybody back here?" He yelled, his voice echoing through the deserted hallway. Listening briefly, Duo heard some shuffling further down the hallway. "Hey!! Whoever's back there...this place is gonna BLOW!" The sound was getting louder as whoever was back there ran toward Duo's voice. It was Lt. Daniels, one of the officers from the fifth unit.

"Explosive planted in the circuit box, sir!" Daniels called out as he ran to catch up with Duo. "I'm the last. Everyone else has gone already."

"Great, now, lets get out of here ourselves." Duo checked his watch. They had just under three minutes left before the factory would be transformed to smithereens. Racing across the large expanse, they rushed together toward the corridor to the hanger.

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When the first bombs started to go off at the back of the base, officers were piling aboard the six shuttles, loading on the captive Freedom Alliance soldiers with them, to be taken back to Earth for interrogation. The main hanger was fairly safe from the damage being done by the bombs that had been set, since the hangers were all wired by remote, but the shuttles were prepared for a quick liftoff anyway, ready to depart the now-exploding base. The hanger shook with tremors as a second charge blew, and the final, remaining officers finished boarding their ships. As Heero gazed over the men and women hurrying to prepare for takeoff, he noted that there were some faces he hadn't yet seen, and his stomach sank, hoping that he was mistaken. There had been weapons fire in one part of the base; he'd heard it. He once more pushed away the possibility that some of the units would not be going home. Then he realized that he hadn't seen Duo yet either.

Running back out to the floor of the hanger, Heero began going from shuttle to shuttle, a panic building in his chest that threatened to make him mad if he didn't find Duo. "Agent Maxwell. Seen him yet?" He asked the other agents as they took account for their own officers. Heero hadn't even done that of his own officers, instead disappearing into the sea of Preventers and Alliance soldiers, asking about who had last seen Duo, and all the while, his head throbbed, no pounded, like a jackhammer was at work inside his skull. /Do what you're supposed to do and clear your mind of everything else. The mission is your only concern, Heero./ He could hear J's voice echoing through his head as the pounding became worse, and all he wanted to do was curl up into a fetal ball until the pain went away, but Heero forced himself to keep going. "Have you seen agent Maxwell?" Getting more "no's", Heero kept on going until he came to the realization that Duo wasn't there. When he found Wufei, who was accounting for his own men, the other agent shook his head with a look of worry on his face, as he hadn't seen hide nor hair of Duo since the units all entered the base.

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Hearing the first explosion behind them as they ran for the safety of the shuttle hanger, Duo and officer Daniels were startled, and Duo checked his watch. "Shit," he cursed, and the other man looked at him with worry on his face. "It's time. They're all gonna start blowing...right...about..." He didn't get to finish his sentence as another explosion rocked the factory, causing the huge beam to which it was attached to buckle and break over, bringing down a section of ceiling and cement block wall with it. Before they could take another step, yet another charge went off behind them, and the air was clouded with the dust of demolition, making it difficult to see and breathe.

"Damn it! I can't find the corridor!" Daniels yelled out, running blindly through the thick powder in the direction that he knew escape was.

"Just keep running, Daniels! Keep running!" Duo was right behind Daniels, coughing as dusty particles filled his mouth and lungs, but he kept on as a third explosion hit in the factory, this one closer. He could feel the heat from that one, and the shrapnel that flew across the room, some of it hitting all over his body like many tiny BBs from a gun that went off all at once. Now the fog in the factory was so thick, he couldn't see his hand in front of his face, yet he kept on. It was the fourth explosion, the one that took out the near wall, that stopped him as debris fell on all sides, pinning him by the legs under a fallen beam.

"Uuugh!" He grunted, thrown to the floor, the wind briefly knocked out of him as the beam fell onto him.

"Agent Maxwell!" Daniels yelled from somewhere in the gray clouded muck floating around in the air as another rumble hit somewhere near the back of the factory. "Where are you?"

Duo tried to free his caught legs, tried to squirm his way out from under the beam, but he was struck by the searing pain of what could only be a broken bone. His thighbone was snapped right where the beam lay across his legs, holding him in place under its weight. He was immediately covered in a clammy sweat, and he cursed himself.

"Agent Maxwell!" The call came again. Daniels was still waiting for him as explosions were going off all over the base. The shuttles were probably leaving already, probably preparing for the one final boom, the "big" charges that would blow up the mobile suit hanger, and the officer was still trying to find Duo instead of getting his ass back to safety.

"Run, Daniels! RUN for it!"

"WHERE ARE YOU?"

Duo coughed to get his voice out. "I'm hurt, Daniels. Just go! Get out of here before you get killed too!"

"I can hear you...not too far!"

"Daniels! GO! And that's an ORDER!" Duo screamed, forcing the officer to retreat back to the shuttles against his will. Then he tried to free his leg once more and the shooting pain returned, this time accompanied by white and black spots in his field of vision. "ahhh fuck," he complained to himself as yet another charge shuddered through the base and he could hear more and more of the structure crumbling and collapsing around him.

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Daniels burst through the doors to the shuttle hanger just as the first shuttle was taking off, his entire body covered from head to toe in gray dust and particles. He was quickly met by officers rushing to help him.

"Agent Maxwell...he's...still in there," Daniels said, breathing heavily as he tried to catch his wind and wipe dust out of his eyes. "He's hurt or...something. In the factory. I couldn't...find him to get... him out. On the left side...near the conveyor belt...I think."

Seeing the commotion gathering around the young officer, Heero, who's head was still pounding and pounding like a fence post driller, rushed over to hear what the officer had to say. Then before anyone could stop him, he was running toward the hanger doors, heading back into the base as another bomb went off somewhere in the interior of the building.

"Yuy!" One of the other agents called out to him. "Where the HELL are you going?" Heero didn't answer, but just kept going, Forget about the others -- all you need to worry about is your MISSION! ignoring the calls of his fellow Preventers. He knew he was going against orders. He knew he was screwing up the time frame, since they still had to detonate the mobile suit hanger before any wise-assed Alliance member who might be hiding out could manage to get away with one of the suits. He knew he was going to have to deal with the wrath of J for this stunt, because assassins and soldiers didn't HAVE feelings to interfere with their missions.

There was something else that Heero also knew, though. He knew that he had to find Duo and bring him out of the mess that was becoming the Lunar base, and he had to do it quick, before they were both killed, and before the shuttles left without them.

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