Santa Clarita: Wartime: Death in a Pinch by Max aka Nix Winter and Pinkwhirlwind Warning: AU tech.. I like my tech. Also, Heero and Duo are lovers. This is probably set before The Day Duo Fell Into the Sun. Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing - they just seem to be the best way for me to see myself sometimes. There is a dark timelessness to it. He knew how much energy he had to run his scythe, power his blasters, how much lift he had, how far he could go from moment-to-moment in the battle. He consciously chose to run his music at nearly deafening volume at the expense of internal impact dampeners. The music buffeted him. Explosions and the occasional impact tossed him hard against his rig, against the small cockpit that had been built for a boy almost a year younger than he was. It had fit so much better before he really understood exactly what he was going to do with it. Hatred had made it just so much more comfortable, but putting on twenty pounds of muscle and two inches in height hadn’t helped. He dodged slammed the back plasma spike right through some poor guy’s cockpit, kicked another mecha, ignored a failing gyro warning as it tried to scream through the haze of numbness that meant he didn’t feel a god damn thing as stamped down on a guy with a pneumatic powered grappling hook. He’d done that shit to people and ain’t nobody gonna climb up Deathscythe and ram a small scale explosive in any place tender. He jumped, spun, laughing as the torsion spun him like a roller coaster, until the back of Deathscythe’s foot impacted the computing and directional array on another enemy, and pushed off it, mimicking Trowa because it was useful as he flipped and pulled his scythe through another cockpit, spraying blood, shrapnel, and all the various fluids in a mecha across the forest where they fought like dark rain. His putting on twenty pounds was all Heero’s fucking fault. Damn bastard got turned on by muscle and hinted that he liked deeper voices, and that if Duo didn’t start eating more, he wasn’t going to hit puberty properly and wasn’t Trowa pretty? Soaked in sweat, copper taste in his mouth, Duo hung in his rig, straps biting into his shoulders, until he straightened out his stance, letting himself fall back into the seat. He powered down his scythe. His sensors said there wasn’t another mecha for a hundred miles. He wasn’t picking up any signs of human life in any of the mech around him either, for which he was fucking hideously pleased. The coup de grace was his least favorite part of tidying up. He wasn’t still alive because he left witnesses around. Leaning back in his seat, head on the rest between his two added in speakers, he wasn’t sure he was actually still alive at all. He licked bloody lips, eyes a little wide and frantic as he turned down his music. Part of him waited to hear the screams of the dying or of hell, but there was nothing on the externals except forest and burning debris. The fighting wasn’t nearly as much fun as it was when the cockpit had fit properly. After the battle where he and Trowa delivered the coup de grace personally, he was sure the entire world wasn’t really the same. Trowa had been right though and doing it had changed battles for him. It had also upped the price on his head, but that was kinda cool. If the Ozzies didn’t want to get smashed to bits, they should try holding real elections and stop following totalitarian bastards. That last bit was Quatre’s line, but Duo believed it. Freedom and just rule. And there he sat with his eyes closed, as if opening them was going to get him the prize of his own victory. He was hungry. Yes. Hungry. He was going to have to come back to the battle scene within a few hours, to scavenge for power cells and useful parts. The detachment he’d taken out had been on a stealth mission, meant to take out a civilian town and make it look like Gundam work. That meant there was a town and town mean burgers. His stomach growled angrily. He grinned, Heero’s face vivid in his thoughts. A sense of mania returned to him and he flipped his music to the being in love with Heero music. With minimal life support, he had 15 minutes of stealth and flight combined, but that ought to let him get high enough to find the town, and hopefully find a place to put DS down for a nap. “You wanna take a nap, don’t ya babe,” Duo asked, caressing the controls. The sensors tripped over an alarm for human life signs and he was super glad he was stealthed. Fingers danced over his controls and he brought the target up on his tertiary screen. It was a yellow bus, over on its side, the snubby snout hanging off a cliff. It was definitely civilian. It didn’t seem hostile, but sometimes those were the most hostile things of all time. Come have a food pack, just come a little closer, that’s good, nice boy. Duo shivered, gut going cold, hatred rising like a boiling poison. He set down on the ripped up road, his mind detached because part of him really thought the best thing to do would be to kick the yellow bus all the way over the cliff. He could see it falling in his mind, feel the satisfaction from the destruction of it. His sensors said there were twenty humans in the thing, but none of them were trying to get out... which seemed like a dumb ass beyond belief fact to him. So they couldn’t get out. They were hostages, restrained and set as a trap. He was the only target for a trap, so he expected that the dead Ozzie assholes thought he’d try to help, to pull the thing back, then it would explode real good. He hated Oz so bad it wasn’t even measurable. He could put a blaster shot through it. The fuckers trapped in it were probably suffering anyway. Sister Helen whispered in his ear that he didn’t KNOW that they were suffering or that they were beyond redemption. All people could be saved. “Lies,” he hissed. “Damn lies.” He went to one knee, pulled pistol out to put into his calf pocket, and grabbed a basic and useful tool kit, then popped his hatch. Before he left, he set Death’s air concentrators to collecting and purifying air. Earth’s air made him sneeze so bad. Fuckers had no sense of environmental purity. When he had time, he kept looking for the purifying systems on this rock, but he hadn’t found them yet. They needed some fucking work, that’s what. Still wearing the shirt that Father Maxwell had given him, though there was no way it would ever be clean again, he landed on the torn up earth, and refused to think about what he was going to do. Death was cloaked, hatch open, but he told himself it would be okay. Earth gravity was still harsh. Fuckers oughta fix that too! Lazy ass bastards didn’t fix anything on this rock. It was worse than home. Now that his mind was made up, he ran the rest of the way to the yellow bus. The sound of children crying sent ripples of shock over him, so bad he could barely think. At the back of the bus, he dropped to his knees and started to work at opening the door. A small face pressed against the glass. brown eyes frantic as any creature he’d ever seen. “Get help!” She shouted at him. “I’m gonna get the door open,” he said, automatically giving her a grin like he was a great comic book hero. “NO!” She screamed. “Coach Allen is stuck. If we get out of the bus, the bus’ll fall over!” Then he realized the back windows were filled with frantic and terrified little faces. He swallowed and nodded. He couldn’t pull the bus back on his own. He couldn’t let them see Death and live. “Okay. I want you all to pray, okay? Prayers don’t work if you don’t keep yer eyes shut. With prayer we’re gonna move the bus back.” “I’m an atheist,” one boy said. “Great,” Duo said, eyes searching around as if an answer would fall out of the sky real fast. “So like, close yer fucking eyes or I’ll kick yer ass. Got me.” Those eyes closed tight. Duo ran back to Death as fast as he could, grabbed the tether and was back up in the cockpit in what felt a fast moment to him. Keeping the cloaking on, sound dampening on, he crawled forward and took a firm hold on the bus, pulling it roughly back from the edge. Like a little boy with a toy, he crawled backwards, dragging the bus, until he thought maybe he oughta lift it up a bit, like maybe someone had body parts hanging out or something...though if they did, they didn’t anymore. He felt like shit then and set it back down, then on second thought, turned it back over on its wheels. Kids screamed and he shudder. Why in the hell didn’t they hold on or something? He shook his head and went back to the edge of the cliff. A half a dozen feet down there seemed to be the entrance of a cave system. Scanners showed it to be big enough and mostly kinda stable, so he climbed down and into it before packing up what supplies he thought were needful and back up over the edge. No one had come out of the bus yet.. and his heart jumped into his throat... maybe he’d killed them or something. He ran to the front door and forced it open. The kids were all huddled in a pool in the middle now, clinging to each other and crying. He gave them a stern and confused look, which only made them cry more. The driver was a big black guy who must have done a header out the windshield at some point. He was cut up pretty badly. Duo dropped his bag and pulled out his medical kit, which he really didn’t want to share much of, because med supplies were kinda hard to come by. There was never any decent shit to be scavenged from Oz crap, unless you got an officer’s mech and those were getting more and more rare these days. After this shit, he was going to have to hit up a hospital, and he really hated doing that. Still, the guy had a pulse and the kids.. maybe they were all mentally challenged or something... what with the heavy air and gravity, maybe hell, he didn’t know, but they seemed to love this guy, so he must be a decent guy if a bus load of challenged kids loved him. “Fuck, fuck,” Duo cursed, trying to go slow and sparingly with his coagulation spray, but after a few minutes, he’d stopped the bleeding. He only had two transfusion packs, so he only use one and hoped it would be enough. It really took more effort to get the guy out of the driver’s seat... he had to weigh 290 and he looked like one of those guys who play football. Duo had a moment where he was sure he’d pulled a muscle moving the guy and gods, he did NOT want to explain that to Wufei. Wufei was a complete asshole most of the time, but Duo needed him. He left the guy on the floor and hoped like hell the bus would start. He couldn’t exactly leave a bus load of mentally challenged folk and a pin cushion stranded out in the middle of fuck where. From the air, he knew the town was like five miles down this road. What he would have liked to have known was why the bus was likely headed away from town when some concussion from the battle blew it off the road. Interesting times. The bus started right up, for which he was grateful and full of trepidation. “So... who wants to sing a song? We should sing a song!” he said with forced cheerfulness as he slowly drove them down the side of the road until the recent rips and buckles were passed. “If yer happy an ya know it! Come on!” The girl who had spoken to him before came to stand by him, eyeing him. “What are you?” He really wanted to turn to face her, grin from ear-to-ear, and tell her he was the God of Death. He really, really wanted to! It took both Sister Helen and Heero both telling him no, that made him smile and say, “I’m a traveling priest. I just stopped by to help.” Well, it was kinda true. “What kind of priest?” “I’m Father Maxwell. You talk real good.” “I’m not stupid, you know.” she said glaring at him with all the power of those who are justifiably offended. “I know you had a mecha.” “Well that’s too bad,” he said menacingly. “It could have been prayer,” she amended. “Is teacher going to be okay?” “Prayer is a good answer. I hope he’ll be okay. I’m gonna get you back to the town.” “But there are bad men in the town,” she said, biting her lip. “My mom said I should go.” “It was prayer,” he said firmly, comfortingly this time. “I’ll take care of the bad men. That’s what kind of priest I am.” “A bad man killing priest?” She asked, sizing him up. “Yup. Exactly.” I’m the god of death, baby.