Author: CeeDee
see # 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Many thanks to Sakusha for meddling with the text -- you did gooood -- and Ellimaru (yay me, she still had a few useful comments... but waaay less than at the start of this fic) So this is the edited version, enjoy!

Future of the Past - #13
Iophiel

{(Beauty of God) Archangel of the Third Ray, Iophiel is the Angel of Paradise
and the Patron Angel of Artists. Archangel of Illumination, he teaches the
outer consciousness the Power of Light within oneself, stirs the feelings,
through Radiation of Illumination, into aspiration for spiritual things. He helps
in absorbing information, studying for and passing tests, dissolution of ignorance,
pride, narrow-mindedness, and exposure of wrongdoing in governments
and corporations. Iophiel helps in fighting pollution, cleaning up our planet
and brings to mankind the gift of Beauty. He is a ruling prince of the Order of
Thrones and the first World Teacher for our world.}


+

It's funny, how many memories filter through your mind in just a fraction of a second.

The moment I turned my back to Wufei, I remembered something that had happened during one of my rare trips to Earth. I had been out late, having a few drinks with some friends. On the way back to my hotel, I took a shortcut across a dark alley. I was horrified to stumble upon a man accosting a woman there.

I'd pulled him off her, hitting him and throwing him into the wall on the other side. I leaned in to help the young women up, but realized that for all my help, I was too late. The damage had already been done. The tears on her face and the bruising on her thighs told me so. I felt rage then. I heard him move behind me, struggling to get up, but my anger held me in place.

I was angry with myself for not being here sooner, though I had not known what foul deed I would find, and furious at finding someone who would dare pray on innocence in such a manner. I started cussing, swearing the foulest language I'd ever heard to date. I wanted to hurt that man the way he had hurt this young woman.

I remember turning to find the man, the rapist, trying to walk away from his heinous act. I stood up to deal him out some justice, still raving in anger, and I can't remember exactly what I said, but suddenly the man fell, bleeding from his nose. He twitched into unconsciousness. I'd assumed whatever injury had occurred, it had happened when I first touched him, since I hadn't laid a hand on him otherwise.

But now?

Then I thought about the Xetoin's ships, floating in space, and manned with nothing more than corpses after our battle. I'd killed them even without knowing it, every one of them.

I knew it to be true.

I had a fleeting thought about my subconscious mind; if it knew, during the wars, what I was capable of. Me, declaring to be the God of Death. It seemed much more fitting now that it had then; or was it Bethor, about and aware during that time, planting the idea in my head? No. I cut that line of thought. Bethor said itself that it couldn't have predicted the outcome of the serum usage, in its own words, and the AI couldn't lie.

It had been me, all the time.

Despite all that, I didn't mull over the how, and when or why, as I stalked through the room, and out into the small hallway. There would be time for that later. Practical as I was, I'd always used a weapon as it presented itself when needed. Not like Heero, who'd just pointed a gun at everything, and then refrained from pulling the trigger. If I had a gun out, I used it. Just now, I was the weapon myself. And I had every intention of using this ability.

I paused briefly. There were three doors here, one out of this circle - which was the middle of the carrier - and the second one I just came though. Number three it was. Only one way to go. I knew we were in the middle of the ship the instant I had come to again, by the curved walls of the room, the one with the cages. That meant I was finally at the Queen's lair.

I was determined to inflict as much damage as possible to those Xetoins. As I reached the door, it slid open by itself. There were four big ugly Xetoins in the room, guarding a door on the opposite side. Their eyes fell on me and I panicked.

No. Please. Nonono. Help me. Heero, please help me.

I was terrified, afraid as never before in my life, and my stomach lurched in my belly.

I gripped the doorframe, hard, and clenched my other hand into a fist, digging the nails in my palm. The pain helped me to find my bearings again. I fought down the urge to spray the remains of my last meal all over the place, fought hard just to remain sane. I felt hands brutally grip my arms and haul me up -- hell, when had I fallen down? But the hurtful contact helped bring me out of the panic attack. I breathed through my nose, and thought about the kids in the other room, and that helped, too.

My head lolled back as they handled me like a lump of dirty laundry and I stared right in the face of one of my assailants.

"Hey, blubber guts," I hissed through clenched teeth, dangling in the air, "wanna dance?" My translator chirped accordingly.

It seemed astonished that I still made a noise. I guess I was a little surprised myself.

I overcame the emotional attack as much as I ever would, and fully intended to finish them off. I spit in its face and it let go of me. I grunted in pain as I fell, my arm twisted - still held by another one of these cretins. I slumped down, against it. One of my knives was already out of my wrist sheath and in my hand as I bumped into it, and rammed the blade into its torso. I twisted the blade, and held on. It dropped me and screeched while my knife made a deep cut downwards with my momentum, and sliced it open. I was instantly doused in blood. The Xetoin fell to the ground.

My God, these fuckers were slow. The moment my feet hit the ground I whirled, and ducked under an outstretched limb trying to grab me. Aiming not to slip in the mess on the floor, I took two steps back against a wall, flexing the hand on my twisted arm.

"You know, that whole 'We-will-conquer-you' thing is over now," I announced, coldly. "You picked the wrong target. No more feeding off helpless people." And before they could take two steps in my direction, I sought out that dark place in myself and sent all my hate at the nearest one. "Go. To. Hell."

It fell, like their comrade had fallen, and I watched in morbid curiosity as an additional swell of blood burst out of the one I had cut open and it stopped making noises. It was as if all their blood vessels had burst all at once. I swallowed and tucked away all my thoughts, everything not necessary to fight. The only thing that mattered was that it worked.

I crouched into a fighting position, eying the two that were left. They came to me from different angles, drawing what looked like very nasty sharp objects, and I didn't know if I could hit them both with whatever it was I used to kill them with before.

"C'mon, snot-face," I murmured, more to myself, "I'll help you become a better being."

One of them tried to stab me and the other took a swing at me, but I ducked under the swing, and sidestepped into its unprotected space. I slashed its thigh, and danced away, chuckling darkly. "Tag, you're it."

It was growling in a chirping way and turned with a new swing at me, which I blocked with my blade protecting my forearm, as a searing pain shot through me. Shit. The second one landed a hit on my unprotected side. I hissed, annoyed at my carelessness, as I made a roll through its feet.

Coming up behind it, I stabbed where the kidneys would be in normal people, and kicked against its knee joint. It fell and folded like a pocketknife, and roared, trying to get me with its weapon by twisting its upper body.

I used the motion to hang on its neck and slit its throat. Three down, one to go. The last one seemed to be shocked at the level of resistance I gave it, or maybe it was just hindered by its injured leg. I didn't care. I let the body fall and charged at the last one with a battle cry... and it crumpled to the ground, dead. I had totally forgotten this strange ability of mine.

I took a deep breath and hissed at the pain in my side. Pressing my hand to the slash, I grimaced. It wasn't that bad, but the blood dripped down my leg, and into a small puddle at my foot. It would have to wait. I had bigger fish to fry at the moment. I moved to the door, the door between me and my prey. It didn't have a keypad, or any other way to get in that I could tell. Well, shit.

'I need someone to open this damned door for me,' I sent over the com.

'On it.' Trowa responded.

I nodded and prepared myself.

'We are under siege, here,' Quatre declared, calmly. 'Your little distraction resulted in them discovering that their ship is out of their control. You have to hurry. I don't know how long we can hold the control centre.'

Oh, shit.

I hadn't thought of that when I called my Gundam to me. I'd only thought about the kids and how to get them out. They would have never made it out on foot through this goddamned monster of a carrier with these Xetoins around.

'I'm sorry,' I tried, a little subdued.

'You did what you had to,' he answered, 'Wufei explained. You did the right thing.'

'But how will you...'

'We're still alive, Duo,' he interrupted and I couldn't finish my question about how they planned to get out as he said, 'and you hurry, damn it, we have to launch the ships and get them out of here.'

I swallowed and closed my eyes, trying to get back in the kind of rage that let me forget, let me ignore the pulsing pain at my side, and nodded. 'Okay.'

The door swooshed open and I stood in front of three more of those impossibly big Xetoins. They had some sort of weapon ready and tried to stab at me with it. In the flash of a moment, I recognized the weapon as a sort of stun stick, the one that had knocked me out before. I focused on my dark side, dodged and took a step back, shouted out one of my attack cries and they slumped to the floor like the lifeless lumps of meat.

I had heard a couple more thumps, and as I stepped over the bodies into the room, I found another five bodies lying there -- two Xetoins and... three kids.

I blinked, horrified, and was just Duo again.

"Oh, fuck," I ground out and raced over to them. They were dead, too. "God, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," I chanted as I knelt at their sides and closed their eyes. This wasn't supposed to happen, not this. They were innocent, victims. We're supposed to rescue them...

'Duo, focus,' came a sharp reprimand over the com and snapped me out of it.

'Heero...' I tried, but he didn't let me.

'Mission, Duo. Face it. Not everyone will make it.'

I swallowed hard, and closed my eyes. He was right. Some of the people I had seen here on this ship had been so weak, they were on the brink of death. And some may yet die on the way to the ships if they came across the enraged Xetoins. We could only do so much. And all because of these bastards. My rage blossomed anew at the thought of it and I gritted my teeth.

We could have done worse.

Blown up the carrier with all of them in it. But we didn't. We tried to save as many as we could, but there would be casualties, like in every war. And war this was. Or would be. They would proceed to Earth if we didn't do what we had to.

But I had killed them...

I took a deep breath and looked around. It was a large room, divided into sections with tables and chairs and sleeping niches. Must have been the living space of those that I'd just killed. And surprise of surprises, another door. I sighed. It seemed to be the day of doors. I hoped to God that this was the last one. I wanted out of here. I started forward.

'Duo?' Heero sounded timid.

'Yeah?'

'I... I love you.'

I think my eyebrows hit my hairline. That was... really unexpected. What the hell just got into him? 'Uhh... you're not thinking of self-destructing or anything right now, are you?' I asked, just to be sure.

An amused snort came over the com. 'We aren't out of options, yet.'

'Glad to hear.' I cleared my sudden clogged throat. 'Love ya too.'

'Good. Go, zero-two, kick ass.'

'Roger that, zero-one.'

I really had to wonder how bad their situation actually was. I forced myself not to worry. It wouldn't help them, and would only divert me from my task. I took a last look around, renewing my hate for these beasts.

"Open, sesame," I whispered, and the door swooshed open. There waited my final target. It sat in a sort of a nest, but my main attention was aimed on the eight kids surrounding it. Shit. If I unleashed my... whatever it was against it, they would be affected as well, I just had seen.

Fuck. I narrowed my eyes and let my gaze trail over them. They seemed... off, somehow. They were not frightened, as I expected them to be. They looked content, lovingly cuddling with the monster. Weak, but comfortable.

What the fuck?

Looking up, I met its eyes and instantly drowned.

She was ugly... beautiful. I shook my head, sharply. She had four legs and arms and reminded me of a monster spider. I hated... loved spiders. My fury said goodbye and left in a hurry, and I stood there, in the middle of the room like a besotted fool, panting. Never in my life had seen such a repulsive... beautiful creature. I shook my head again. This was not right. This was gross... wonderful. I was supposed to detest... admire her. I hated... loved her.

My body took a step forward, and another, and I stood in front of her without consciously noticing that I had moved at all.

I had to kill... protect her. I... was in love with her.

Her eyes burnt in mine, and all I could think of was how much I loved her. It hurt, but in a good way. There was something distantly nagging at my mind, but I wasn't able to grasp it. It didn't matter anymore.

"You killed my mates," she screeched, "now I have to wait for the next brood to develop."

I felt bad. Overwhelming regret. I had failed her. God, I was sorry. So terrible sorry.

There was something I had wanted to do, but it slipped my mind as I noticed her reaching for my neck with two of her hands. Her beautiful hands. I leaned into the caress, longing for her touch. She caressed my skin and the contact felt wonderful. I gasped, ecstatic, and briefly wondered why it was so hard to take a breath. Almost as if I...

Unintentionally, I compared her touch with Heero's... it was good, but if Heero touched me...

Heero.

I loved Heero, didn't I? Then... how...

How was it possible I loved...

I felt lightheaded and my eyes fell closed on their own accord, and the eye contact was broken. My lungs felt as if they would burst and I noticed the pain from its grip on my throat. It intended to choke me. God. I had fallen into its trap and it almost finished me off without me even noticing.

I squeezed my eyes shut and bodily fought off its choking grip on me, following up with a hard blow to its head. It was stunned about me breaking its hold on my mind, but as I intended to dodge back a few steps, it had grabbed my left leg and I fell down on my ass. I kicked out with my unrestrained foot and heard something break.

It screeched.

I watched the deadly Queen, but avoided looking directly in its eyes. Its remaining concentration was on me, I could tell. But it couldn't break my renewed fury, mostly at myself for being such an idiot. The kids, so content before in its near proximity, had scrambled away, and huddled fearfully, from what I could make out in my peripheral vision.

Good.

I felt it trying to influence me, but the situation now wasn't the same as before, when it had hypnotized me. It had violated my feelings for Heero. And, for that alone, it had to pay. I would finish it up, yes, but up close and personal.

I'd flipped backwards when I'd broken her hold, and had pulled the knife out of my boot as I came up again, crouched, ready. A cold fire burned inside of me from restrained hate. I cocked my head and studied it coldly, startled as I noticed I'd contemplated the slowest way to finish it off.

"If I had your ugly face, I'd run straight into a buzz saw," I drawled, intending to divert its attention.

But it surprised me again.

It leaped from its nestling position towards me, and revealed that it was as big as its companions were, if not bigger. Size wasn't everything, it was about to learn. Like its late companions had learned.

I danced out of the way, laughing madly. It was fast, but I was faster. It had a wide range, but I ducked and dodged, closed in and danced away, slowly but surely cutting it to ribbons. All the time mocking it. My translator chirped without end. It gave me a morbid satisfaction, seeing it becoming weaker and slower, bleeding all over the floor.

And all the time it screeched and chirped hatefully, and I laughed darkly.

And just like that, it was over.

Laying on the floor, sprawled in its ugly completeness, I detachedly eyed the lifeless remains. Somehow, I was disappointed that it was over this fast. But... I shook my head, sharply, and felt disgusted with myself. I had enjoyed it. Completely and utterly enjoyed the kill. Without restraint or remorse, I had taken pleasure in taking a life. I blinked. Was I any better than they are? I drew in a sharp breath.

A faint sound brought me out of it. I turned and looked over to the kids, whimpering and staring at me with wide, fearful eyes.

"It's okay, now," I tried to soothe them, "nobody will hurt you anymore. We're going."

They looked at me as they heard the chirping of my translator, and I squatted down by the nearest to me, still keeping an eye at the door. You never know. Crouching on my heels, I slowly raised my hand to his necklace, and tugged softly.

"All of you have one of those?"

The boy slowly nodded, distrust still plain in his eyes.

I sighed. "Look, I'm here to help you. We've to get away from here, and blow this place up royally. But you'll have to move."

Unsure of my words, he turned his head to his buddies. They seemed not to know what to do. Used to obeying the Xetoins, they wouldn't know how to react. They'd have to be told what to do. I sighed again and got up, wincing at the pain of my injuries.

"Move, now. And stay behind me."

They hesitantly stood and moved behind me as I stepped out of rooms. I stopped short as I stepped into the hallway, into a place of destruction. The hallways had been ripped open by 'Scythe. The damage seemed to go up well over a hundred feet. My Gundam and Altron stood there, unmoving, swarmed by Xetoins crawling all over them, trying to get into the mechas. They hacked and stabbed, and tried whatever came to their minds. Not that they succeeded in any of it.

Wufei was nowhere to be seen, and I reported and inquired about his status.

'Down two layers,' he answered. 'Some type of quarters. Mostly empty now. You?'

'Operational,' I answered truthfully. I wasn't lying, exactly. I may have been injured, but I'd had worse.

I ushered the boys into the room with the cages and turned back just in time to see a bunch of Xetoins coming at me. It was time to test my deadly ability in a wide range. If I had unknowingly killed entire ship crews while fighting, I supposed I could do so here, too.

Working up a sweat over them seemed like too much of an effort and I let my gaze sweep over the enemy. Cold, I felt dark and cold inside, and I compared it to the feeling of deep space. Like death. I wondered if they had to hear my voice for it to work. Had the crews of the ships? I did not know. Maybe. I had my channels open as we battled them, as I had in the past, but I had no way to know if they listened.

I decided to test it. What other opportunity would I get? I concentrated on the swarming Xetoins and directed the desire to see them dead. Nothing happened, and I whispered hatefully in their direction. They dropped like dominoes, and I was amazed. Apparently, I wouldn't need to shout myself hoarse, there was no way the farthest ones could have heard my words.

I again let my gaze sweep over them and directed pure hate in their direction, murmuring words of death. I took out my headset to 'Scythe's AI and put it on, giving orders. Slowly, making my way through the growing piles of bodies, I climbed up in my mechas hand and my buddy stood up. I looked around, still whispering hate, and everything in my line of sight dropped.

I swallowed. I really was Shinigami, now. I killed with a thought and my voice, without raising a weapon. I stood there, in the palm of my Gundam, and didn't know what to think. Somehow, it tilted my world. I really was a newtype, improved with science, but no less true. Quatre was one, too. What about the others? What about Trowa and Wufei? Heero had seemed to develop an ability that let him know if actions resulted in something bad happening, so that it could be avoided

I tilted my head. Was that why he told me he loved me? Had he known I wouldn't withstand the Queen's mindfuck without reassurance? I smiled, as I activated my com link.

'Oh-two reporting. Mission objective eliminated. And then some.'

'Roger.' Quatre answered. 'Retreat and stand down.'

'Status?' I asked.

There was a pause, and then he answered, 'About to be breached. We have to start the ships, now.'

I bit my lip. About to be breached? This was bad. 'Confirmed. I had Howard send a shuttle for the kids here. Go is at any time.'

'Understood,' he replied. 'We'll set the detonations as soon as you're out.'

My blood ran cold. What did he mean? They wouldn't... 'No way. I won't...'

'Starting sequence for the ships enabled. Go, oh-two.' And he severed the connection.

I sighed and rubbed my face in my hands. Did he really expect me to let them blow the place without extracting them first? As I looked up again, there was Wufei standing, frozen. He took in the piles of bodies and slowly raised his head to look at me. His mouth still was open in a round O. Astonished, and... mute.

I shrugged and called out, "What else would you expect from Shinigami?"

He clicked his mouth shut and shook his head, gesturing to someone at his back. Sixteen kids came out around him, staring, too. But mostly at our mechas.

Snorting dryly, I sprinted over my buddy's arm to the shoulder, climbed down in my cockpit and released the camouflage net from the storage compartment. In no time we had it set up between our two buddies and had them kneel at the floor. We ushered all the kids in it and climbed into our cockpits, returning the way our buddies had come, only with one huge hammock between us.

Our trail was hard to miss; all over there were walls, ceilings ripped open, cables, and wires hung loose, some still sparking. On our way back we encountered small pockets of resistance, but I just caused them to drop dead. No challenge in that.

Wufei helped the kids into the shuttle, while I kept watch in my buddy. I was beginning to feel dizzy, from blood loss I suspected, but I gritted my teeth and kept silent. We still had work to do. The hangars were empty; all the docking doors of the carrier were wide open. Swarms of ships could be seen in the distance, leaving the premises. Good. Howie would bring them to a safe distance before we blew this monster up. Wing, Sandrock and Heavyarms hovered in the docking bay, waiting for the command of their pilots.

'They plan to blow the place up as soon as we are out of here,' I watched, as Wufei narrowed his eyes.

'Fools,' he replied.

I watched as he turned and climbed into his Gundam again, intending to work our way through the ship to the control centre. No words were necessary between Wufei and me; he also was reluctant to leave the rest of our team to fend for themselves. Sparks flew and metal screamed as my buddy's Scythe cut its way through the carrier. This time there was no need to be stealthy. The Xetoins knew shit was going down. They just didn't know how much, yet. It took precious time to work our way through, but it was way faster than going by foot.

I began to get antsy. They might do something stupid. And I wanted out of here. Preferably in one piece.

+

I could see what they meant. Breached, my ass. Xetoins were all over the place as we reached the command center. And the worst -- the doors stood open. I swallowed.

I'd tried to reach them through the com for a while now, but there had been no answer. Only a confirmation that Bethor still had readings from them, reassured me that they still were alive. But in what state?

As we came closer, the Xetoins came at us with vigor. They didn't seem to be dissuaded by the groups of comrades falling dead at their feet. They just kept coming. No sense of self-preservation at all. I gritted my teeth. The dizzy feeling intensified and my ears began to ring. I felt lightheaded and small white dots danced into my vision. I didn't know how long I could hold on. I bit hard on my cheek and the pain helped me to continue. I couldn't pass out now.

My buddy shoved the corpses aside into the hallways where it built a barrier of dead bodies, which prevented the new ones from coming to us. It bought us some time. I let my buddy kneel and got out of the cockpit, trying to keep my swaying under control. Wufei was at my side, sword drawn. I realized that he was holding me up.

"You're injured," he stated. "Why didn't you..." He trailed off, staring through the open door.

I blinked. Had I finally lost it and gone to la la land? There were the Xetoins, building a circle around my lover and my two friends. That was almost what I had expected. What I didn't expect was the way they stood there, motionless. Not fighting and making havoc. Quatre's and Heero's hand lay on Tro's shoulders and Tro had an arm outstretched, palm facing the Xetoins, eyes unseeing and far away. Okay. Like I said, la la land.

But the thing that really had me think I was dreaming was... seeing the Xetoins around them hacking at what seemed like an invisible barrier, obviously unable to come any nearer to them. They were furious. Like kids throwing a tantrum. I snorted.

Oops. That wasn't too neat a move. Some turned and rushed at us. Wufei raised his sword, but I was faster. Avoiding the direction the three were standing in, I killed most of them in one sweep with a whisper and a swell of hate. Had to leave some to Wufei, who used his chance.

I just had time to register Heero's eyes widen at the sight of us standing in the doorway, and then the whirl of Wu's sword, and then I was out like a light.

[part 12] [part 14] [back to Singles a - k]