Mission Implausible + Part 8 (cont)

"I wondered--I think what Treize got in here was something to do with me--and I want to find it. I don't want the guys to have any more trouble because of me," Duo blurted defiantly. "So what are you going to do now, lock me up too?"

"No," Une said. "I'm going to ask for your help." She resumed her seat at the computer. "Whatever Treize got it isn't obvious--I've checked the drawers of his desk--all except the locked one."

"Locked?" the child questioned. "You don't happen to have a piece of wire handy do you?"

Une sacrificed one of her hairpins. Using it Duo managed to get the lock undone, while she stood at the doorway and watched for disturbances.

"Anything in there?" she asked.

"There's a disk on top of some papers--and a photo of a really ugly baby--"

"Give me the disk," Une said. "You keep a lookout." She ruffled Duo's hair as they switched positions. "If we're both alive when this war is over, I'll find a family for you," she told him, impulsively.

"I've already got a family," Duo replied. "At least, I hope I do." His face was troubled.

Une inserted the disk.

She was quiet such a long time that Duo had to ask, "Is something wrong?"

"You could say that." Une forgot for a moment that she was talking to a child and not a colleague. "What does Treize want, staking out a small Russian village?"

"A small Russian village?" Duo questioned sounding stricken.

Of course--that was where he'd been found.

Une frowned, skimming through the battle plans and opening another file. It was a scan of a poster that had been found in this same Russian town--she paused. It was Duo--

And--

It was one of those rare moments when Une smiled.

"Duo," she said. "Come and look at this."

The child crept over to her on silent feet. "What?" he said. "Oh--WOW--"

It was a simple poster, much like any other missing person poster, the picture of Duo taking up most of the space. What was so special about it was the message below. Written in English and Russian, it stated simply 'His family miss him'.

Duo's face was glowing. "Wow" he repeated, stretching out a hand as if to touch the computer screen. "Wow--"

It was the most precious thing she'd ever seen. Une felt rather warm inside herself. She made a promise to herself then. Duo would get back to his family. She would see to it.

+


Quatre stared at the phone. Ring, dammit, he thought. Someone in this stupid city has to know where he is--

In the opposite corner of the room, a cluster of Manguanacs watched their leader apprehensively. Quatre was brave, courageous, compassionate and wonderful, but at the moment--

He was downright scary.

The phone rang for perhaps one thirteenth of a second before Quatre grabbed it. "Hello?" he said breathlessly.

"Does the phrase, 'Do you expect me to talk?' mean anything to you?"

Quatre blinked. "Heero?"

"It doesn't fit any of the songs of the CDS--I've done an internet search and turned up nothing-"

"Uh--Heero--what are you talking about?"

"Duo's code. I think I've broken it. There's just three things I haven't been able to crack. That one, 'Time is fleeting' and 'It wasn't a rock'."

"Was any of that supposed to make sense?"

"Please, Quatre, you have to think--do any of those sound familiar to you?"

"Uh--what was the last one?"

There was a pause as Heero consulted his notes. "It wasn't a rock."

"It wasn't a rock," Quatre repeated. "It wasn't a rock--" He laughed. "You know, that reminds me of the time me and Duo had a mission that took us by some beach somewhere. He insisted the B-52s were the only band you could play at a beach--that and the Beach Boys- -did you know Duo owns several Hawaiian shirts? And they're not black either--honestly you'd think he worked in a funeral home sometimes--"

"B-52's?" Heero asked, drawing Quatre's attention back to his query.

"An old--and I mean really old band--pre-colony even. But then, Duo has that thing for vintage rock. What were their most famous songs? Love shack, Rock lobster--Rock Lobster--that's it!"

"It is?" Heero sounded completely confused.

"It wasn't a rock--" Quatre declared to the bemusement of the watching Manguanacs. "It was a rock lobster!"

He blinked as the line suddenly went dead. "Heero?"

Honestly, Pilot 01 had no manners. Quatre replaced the receiver wondering if he would ever find out what that had been about.

He had barely time to begin pondering whether the accumulated stress had proven too much for J's prodigy or if he really had managed to crack Duo's code before the phone rang again.

"Hello?"

The Manguanacs saw Quatre's hand tighten around the cell phone. "They do? Do you have proof?"

There was a pause and then Quatre paled. "Duo--it's really . . . ? How are they treating you? Are you all right? They have Wufei as well? No, Duo, it's not your fault. Don't worry--we'll get you and Wufei out of this. I promise--Duo?"

From the grim expression that had settled over Quatre's face, the Manguanacs gathered that Duo no longer had the phone. "So you say. How can we trust you? Who are you, anyway? We don't have many friends amongst OZ--"

Pause.

"I see. Well I thank you for your information. However, if I find out you have harmed him in any way--Good day."

He hung up.

"Master Quatre?" Rashid inquired hesitantly.

"Recall the search parties," Quatre ordered briskly. "Start packing. I want a total evacuation in under an hour."

"But sir--"

"OZ knows where we are. We must go into space immediately," Quatre said. "I'm going to try and contact Trowa and Heero--well don't just stand there! The situation is critical!"

The Manguanacs obeyed.



Wufei was outwardly the picture of serenity. Sitting in a meditative position, he was the embodiment of calm under pressure. Inwardly it was another story.

Focus, Wufei reprimanded himself. You can't help Duo or yourself if you cannot concentrate on the situation at hand.

He tried not to think about the fact that the situation at hand was quite possibly without remedy. He was OZ's prisoner without any way of escaping, not to mention OZ had Duo as a weapon against him if he tried. He hadn't told any of the other pilots where he was going, so there was no hope of rescue.

The only thing he could do now was steel himself for the ordeal that would surely come. OZ was ruthless--Wufei was sure they would not waver from using every tool at their disposal on him.

Even a child.

Footsteps roused him from his meditative state. Someone was approaching.

"Sir!"

"At ease, soldier."

Wufei could have groaned. Out of all of OZ, Lady Une was the worst. He kept his face carefully impassive as she approached.

"Leave us with the prisoner."

"But--Lady Une--"

"That was an order, Lieutenant."

This did not bode well. Lady Une had no qualms about torturing prisoners--hell, that was probably why she was sending the guards away. Well, she would find that he would not be so easily intimidated--

Wufei blinked as he found himself facing not the hostile face of an OZ soldier, but worried violet eyes--

"Duo--"

"Wufei! You're okay!" Duo sounded relieved. "He's really okay!" he reported eagerly to someone just out of Wufei's seeing range.

"I told you we weren't entirely without honour, didn't I?" replied... Lady Une?

It couldn't be Lady Une. The uber-bitch who had threatened to blow up several colonies could never sound so gently amused, so affectionate, so... frilly?

Wufei decided he must be hallucinating. Lady Une... in a pink nightgown?

With lace?

"Now Duo, remember what I told you. It will be at least three hours before they can arrive. Until then, if anyone tries to make you leave, tell them you are here under the approval of Colonel Une and they can discuss any problems with me."

Duo nodded.

Wufei managed to tear his mind away from Lady's Une's ruffles. "Three hours until who arrives?"

"All going to plan, Pilot 04 and a sizeable amount of backup," Une said. "Duo, here's your blanket. Are you comfortable?"

Duo was settling in on Wufei's bed. "I'm fine," he said.

"The others will never fall for your nefarious scheme," Wufei told Une stoutly. "Do you think so obvious a trap will work?"

"You'd better hope it does," Une told him. "I see no other way of getting the two of you out of here."

Wufei snorted. "And why should you care about us?"

"I'm a weak onna, do I even need a reason?" Une replied tartly. "Take care Duo. Try and get some sleep, okay?"

Duo sighed. "Okay," he said, sounding as though she'd asked him to swear off chocolate for the rest of his life.

"Goodnight," Une said, lingering a moment. Then she turned and left with precise military decorum.

Wufei stared after her with considerable inner tumult.

Something had just happened. He wasn't sure what.

"You going to read to me?" Duo asked quietly.

He'd got the blanket out and was sitting wrapped up in it on the end of Wufei's bed.

Wufei opened his mouth for a lecture on there being an appropriate time and place for everything, and sitting in an OZ cell waiting for the friends and the colonies best chance for survival walked in to Colonel Une's fiendish clutches was not an appropriate setting for a bedtime story when he stopped.

"The tale of two cities?" he read. "Is that--my book?"

"Don't be mad," Duo said. "I kept your place and everything."

"I'm not mad," Wufei said. "Although if you would like to borrow one of my books, I would appreciate it if you asked. I spent ages looking for this."

"I didn't think you'd let me have it if I did ask," Duo explained. "Quatre said it was--inappropriate."

Wufei was immediately outraged. "The Tale of Two Cities is a classic! Everyone should read it! Inappropriate--hah!" He took the book. "Where are you up to?"

"I'm almost at your place." Duo pointed. "There."

 +

Trowa led the way down the station corridor, a squad of Manguanacs dressed in OZ uniforms at his heels. Their pace was brisk, not designed to attract attention in the busy base--not that anyone would have noticed them anyway. Most people were paying more attention to the two Gundams and the small army currently attacking the base anyway.

"According to our anonymous informant, we need to go to detention block 34c," Trowa said, scanning the hallways. "Which would be this way."

There were a couple of guards standing at the entrance but they looked nervous.

"I'm here to retrieve the Gundam pilot," Trowa said.

"Sir! Is everything all right, out there?"

Yes, they were nervous. Probably never been in a full out battle.

"Nothing serious," Trowa said. "These are important prisoners and as there is a chance the attack is aimed at freeing or eliminating them, we're going to take them to a different location."

"Oh, that's a relief."

"Yes, this will all be over soon," Trowa told them, giving the Manguanacs the signal to render the guards unconscious.

While they took care of hiding the guards out of sight, Trowa set off down the corridor to the cells.

Now they would find out the truth of that anonymous phone call.

True, no-one had been able to contact Wufei, but there were countless explanations for that. For all they knew, their informant didn't even have Duo--

Trowa paused as he heard voices ahead of him. He paused listening hard.

"...So the street outside Newgate had not obtained one infamous notoriety that has since attached to it. But, the gaol was a vile place, in which most kinds of debauchery and villainy--"

"What's debauchery?"

"It's another word for doing something bad with connotations of involving the body."

"You mean like hitting someone else?"

"No, like drinking to excess, or eating more sweets than are good for you... may I continue? Ahem, in which most kinds of debauchery and villainy were practiced--"

Trowa smiled. Definitely Wufei and Duo--and they sounded as though they were alright too. He rounded the corner to see them both, wrapped in a colourful blanket sitting on the cell's only bunk, Duo leaning against Wufei's side as the Chinese pilot read to him.

"I hate to interrupt what looks to be a fascinating story," Trowa said mildly. "But I am on a schedule."

"Trowa!" Duo jumped up immediately, scattering blanket and book in his wake as he did so. "You're here, you're all right!"

"So are you," the European pilot answered, unlocking the door.

Wufei snorted as he picked up Duo's backpack. "Duo, you're going to have to be quiet. We don't want to attract more attention than we have too."

Duo ignored the reproof, locking himself around Trowa's legs.

Somewhat bemused by this demonstration of affection, Trowa looked up to see Wufei hiding a smile.

"Apparently he missed us a lot."

"That's only fair. We missed him," Pilot 03 replied, patting Duo on the head. "We're going to move fast, Duo--I'm afraid you'll have to hurry to keep up."

Duo nodded face determined. Trowa passed Wufei a weapon, and with the Manguanacs they set off. The corridors were much less populated this time round and they made better time.

They would have made even better time if the Manguanacs hadn't kept stopping to steal glances at Duo as they went along.

Wufei smiled wryly as he drew closer to Trowa as they turned down a side passage. "I see Quatre didn't explain?"

"He was somewhat distracted by trying to decide what was the best way to attack the base," Trowa answered.

The next second there was the sound of a massive explosion, and the floors shook, tumbling all of them to the ground.

"I think he found it," Wufei said, as he helped Duo up.

"We have to get out of here fast," one of the Manguanacs--one of these days he would learn their names--said urgently.

Trowa nodded. "We need to get to flight bay level 7."

"This way."

They hurried towards the shuttle bay. So close and yet, anything could go wrong. They could be seen, Quatre's army might launch an attack in the wrong place, OZ might decide to simply jettison the base...

Wufei couldn't help an exclamation of relief as they reached Bay 7.

"We made it!"

"Made what?"

They dived for cover, but it was too late. Zechs had recognised them.

+

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