Getting Schooled 1/?
by Pink Whirlwind
Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing - Bandai does. I'm just playing.
There were two places that Duo Maxwell didn't want to be. The first one was any place that brought him close to dying or losing his freedom. Honestly, that counted for a great many places. The second was Earth. No place felt quite as claustrophobic to him as the surface of humanity's cradle.
Bangs sweaty, clinging to his slender face, tongue licking nervously at the edge of his mouth, he rested on the interior skin of the starboard wing, greasy fingers trying desperately to get a retrofitted accelerometer to work at least half assed before the Sweeper craft he'd begged his way onto not
only failed to break atmosphere, but tumbled back towards the Atlantic ocean like a good intention into hard cold reality.
"Breath, Duo, fuck," Gears complained from just outside the wing form. "I can hear your thoughts burning up."
"Shadup," Duo bitched back, violet eyes narrow, utterly concentrated. Very gently, with his little finger, he pushed the last little piece back into place. "Run the power cycle."
"You," Gears half whimpered, "Gotta get out of there first."
"Now!" Duo shouted.
Scuffling happened, but the circuit completed and blue static danced like fae fire down the length of the wing. It lit up his face, hard planes and deep shadows, feral violet eyes. A boy once, he was all hard lines and will now. He let his arms go slack on the wing skin above his head. "Give me a
Strong hands grabbed his boots. With a clean jerk, he was pulled free of the wing, the tip of his nose passing centimeters from life ending energy streams. Boots back on the metal floor, mag strips active, he slammed the panel shut with one hand, hit the comm with his other hand. "Now! Angel, run the second set of rockets!" To the boys who'd been helping him he growled. "Strap in you damn idiots!"
He grabbed for his own tether, which he latched to the harness on his hips.
The two smaller boys strained to get into the only two actual hot pockets.
The burn of the second set of rockets shook the little ship. Duo's braid pulled back towards Earth, dancing on a wind of gravity and spite. Muscled arms flexing, he held to the arched cherry puller with his right hand, left hand fighting to dance over controls. He wished he were in the cockpit, but
he was the only one in this lot who could keep the main engines running and the wings on until they broke through Earth's greedy control. Tears of strain ran sideways, dropping back towards the hot side, missing his now straight as a stick braid. The worn leather strip holding his cross around his neck twisted, the small metal charm pulling free of his sleeveless black tee-shirt. Climbing, velocity increasing, the cobbled archaic quilt of a ship cursed at them, screaming death threats. Gears sobbed his repentance. Duo's hold on the cherry puller slipped, white knuckled fingers sliding slowly straight. He knew if he lost his old, the ship was going to pendulum him into the side, possibly hard enough bust a hole in the fragile skin of the engine room.
He'd done the figures though, twice, and his internal clock told him he had thirty seconds before they broke Earth's death grip and everything would be fine. The Great Decline was on an intercept path with them, two days out from Earth they'd be picked up. He had every intention of skipping out to
the Khyber Belt and never coming close to anything large enough to be called a planet ever again! The only force that could slow that outbound race was one Heero Yuy. As the blue eyed bastard didn't feel any need to talk for years at a time, Duo didn't see that being a real issue.
Pressure and pull stopped, as sweet as letting out a held breath. Duo suckeda deep breath, looked back at the wide eyed more than half terrified Sweeper boys strapped in behind him and gave them a wink.
Gears started sobbing in earnest and Duo turned away, shoulders slightly raised in emotional defense. "See? Told you this bird would fly!"
"Duo," Angel's voice cracked over the more than half ruined comm system, "I got two bigger ships closing on us."
"Did you turn the cloaking on," he growled, frustrated by lack of controlsin the engine room. "Did the last rockets disengage?"
"Turn the damn cloaking on!"
He unhooked himself, flexed his feet to release the mag strips and floated back to the manual rocket release he'd installed. Boots against the aft wall, he magged down, bent his knees, and grabbed the pull tab. With a great heave, he pulled it free and felt the ship actually begin to gain more velocity. He unmagged and kicked off towards the fore hatch to the room. "Get out of those pockets! Get into the next room. I'm going to eject this room."
"But the engines," Gears said, trying valiantly to wipe away tears.
"I know where the star sucking engines are," Duo growled, giving both of them a herding shove. "You want to get picked up by Earth forces and sent back dirt side?"
Once he had them through, he sealed the hatch and pulled the manual eject tab on that room too. Static jumped and twisted along the inner skin and he took that as a sign that the cloaking had kicked in. Overhanding along the cherry pullers set into the internal walls, he reached the comm, "Cloaking?"
"Hai!" Angel replied in jubilant Japanese. "The vultures are chasing the last room you ejected!"
Cheers erupted in the remaining four rooms. They had a cockpit, a mess, a storage room converted to a main room for sleeping and play, and the secondary engine room. With only twenty souls on board, it would be fine for the two days it would take them to get to the rendezvous point.
A voice smothered the cheering though and the little ship shook like a terrified mouse. "Unregistered ship, prepare for boarding."
"Fuck!" Duo screamed, making the motion for breathing units to the boys with him, then motioning that they should head on. Slightly calmer, he magged to the wall, licked his teeth, considering for a moment, "Boarding ship, we are unarmed and manned by underaged humans. We present no threat to anyone, pass us by."
"Unregistered ship, our scan shows that you are carrying restricted substances in quantities high enough to represent potential distribution. You also have within your population two known felons, but beyond that, it would be a crime against humanity to let children go anywhere in that
disaster of a ship. Are you the captain?"
"We're Sweeper," Duo said, wanting very much to know how restricted substances got on his little makeshift boat. "We have no captain, but I will function as spokesperson. You do not have permission to board. You have my word that restricted substances will be jettisoned for you to pick up. We will continue out of Earth's jurisdiction, so any criminals by Earth's laws will pose no further concern to Earth. Let us pass."
"Brace for stunning influx," the passive voice said.
For all Duo knew it might even be an unmanned ship taking them. The stun passed through the ship, convulsing him for a moment, shutting off his breath as he floated away from the comm, strong and calloused fingers floating still outstretched, but utterly powerless, just as the rest of him was. His braid brushed past his cheek, giving an oddly intimate caress over super sensitive and outraged nerves. The second stunning influx caught him in mid air as if he were no more than a fluff of dust in the static wind of Earth's laws and civilized behavior. His mind summoned up the most comforting day dream he'd ever hand and he floated back into Heero's protective arms. He watched involuntary tears float away from him as he rotated, still moving with the slight impulse he'd gotten from his boots disengaging the skin. He'd been so very close to going home, to being free, but Heero's arms wrapped around him, holding him lovingly. It was the only love he'd ever allow that close. Nothing mattered though. The bastards were going to force him dirtside again.
Earth court buildings are built huge, fine, very fancy and heavy enough to
grind a gravity generator.
Duo wore an orange jumpsuit, his wrists bound by mag connectors from wrists to elbows.
The judge sat high up and behind a splendidly wasteful dark wood desk. He was dressed like a white powdered frog out of a fairy tale. "Mr. Maxwell,you're late for your court date."
Duo glared at each of his guards, one to each side, deeply angry that they'd managed to chain his ankles together too, or he'd have kicked them bothagain. "Not as late as I wanted to be!"
"Is that asphalt in his face," the judge asked one of the guards.
"Your Honor, he attempted escape three times between transport and arrival. The second one ended when he was tackled. It's not life threatening, so we thought court... and then he could see a medic before going... wherever he's going."
"Prison," the second one muttered.
"It looks painful," the judge said, trying to look Duo in the eyes. "Mr. Maxwell, we are not your enemies."
"Could have fucking fooled me," Duo spat. "Let me go!"
"As to that," the judge said, with a slow sigh, "Mr. Maxwell, the court finds your age to be approximately sixteen years of age."
"I'm nineteen, you fuck."
"Biologically, you are approximately sixteen. Even if this was caused by delayed development due to exposure to unsuitable environments in outer space or your actual age, we are unable to ascertain with any certainty that you are, as you say nineteen. We are also aware that you have provided the
citizens of Earth with great service, saving many lives and preventing much property damage. While your actions also affected death and property destruction, the overthrow of malicious governments prevented much greater suffering and we wish to formally observe that you are a Hero of Earth."
"As a Hero of Earth, you will be provided with the best education, medical care, an estate that will provide for your needs, perpetual tax free status for your life time. The estate is to be inherited by your heirs, should you have any, but the tax free status is invested only in you and other Heros of Earth. I rule that you are legally sixteen and as a minor, for your own protection, until such time as you reach a majority of 21, you are hereby remanded to the care of the Athenian Academy. Thank you for your service Mr. Maxwell. I hope that soon you will recognize how much we value your service."
"Let me off this god damn fucking rock then! I don't want to live dirtside! Let me go! Don't touch me!" He screamed and struggled as his two unfortunate guards dragged him towards the transport and very happy news networks broadcast the celebration of his protection.
"Don't worry," one of the guards growled in his ear. "You're going to have company on your trip. Maybe going to school will civilize your fucking spacer ass."
At the top of the courthouse steps, news cameras focused on him and sending the images to the farthest reaches known human habitation, he growled, "Fuck you all! Just let me go!"
A very pretty blonde reporter touched her ear, spoke into the camera, "As you can see, Duo Maxwell has been taken into protective custody. War is hard on everyone, but especially hard on child soldiers. At only sixteen, he claims allegiance with the Sweepers, but they, as expected, gave no comment. He will find a safe and welcoming home at The Athenian Academy. This reporter hopes he finds peace and healing."