fic: What Ties the Soul 3, 4, 5/?

What Ties the Soul 3/?
By Max

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing.



“I can hear you,” she said, patient as parents are with errant children.

Duo froze, inching his way along under the midget tree thing. Violet eyes narrowed, watching the woman like he was a great predator. The scent coming from the area was kind of sharp, fuzzy, a little like pizza sauce and it made his stomach jump around like it could grab the food itself.

The woman was strange though, wearing some shirt that went all the way to her ankles and touching everything with a long stick before walking on it. So there were surface mines. He tried to put as little pressure on the ground as he could. The people on Earth were so violent.

She stopped moving right in front of where he was hiding and hit the short tree with her stick. “Come on out now. Are you hungry?”

“Why? You got food,” he asked without moving.

“Indeed I do,” she said. “Come, boy, I’ll give you food.”

“Why,” he asked, fingers hovering above the thick end of her stick, waiting to see if the magnet in his finger picked up any sign of electronics, power.

“I have food and you’re hungry,” she said, the back of her fingers on her hip, head tilted. “Do I need another reason?”

Duo silently crept backwards, away from the strange woman.

“I need wood carried into the house. I’m old. I can’t do it,” she said, not sounding very believable. “If you carry three loads of wood, I’ll feed you.”

“What you need wood for,” he asked, not very believing.

“I burn it,” she said, confused, “Fuel. It’s fuel.”

Duo slipped out from under the short tree, being very careful of where he stepped, though he understood there was no way to detect a surface mine before stepping on it. That was the point of surface mines.

She reached her hand out towards him, fingers wide, pausing every few millimeters, just slightly. His head shifted to the side, eyes narrowing suspiciously. He couldn’t figure out what kind of weapon it might be. “Why you move like that?”

“I want to touch you,” she said sweetly, kindly, a foreign softness. “So I can know more about you.”

One dark eyebrow shot up, a bit of caked mud falling from his cheek, but he let her hand find his face. The touch was so gentle, her bent and calloused fingers gliding over his skin.  “Boy,” she said, her fingers brushing at the edges of mud coated hair. “Come, carry wood for me.”

He nodded, his cheek slightly leaning towards her kindly touch.

“Good, good,” she said, her white stick expertly ‘seeing’ the ground in front of her as she moved across the rather wild back yard.

He followed after her stepping exactly where she stepped. Near the front of her metal roofed shelter, she pointed in the general direction of some cut firewood. “Bring as much as you can carry. I’ll set you a bowl, boy.”

She continued on, but he stood there still.

She turned, looking at him through dark glasses that hid her eyes. “Well, boy? Are you hungry or not.”

“Am, but what about the surface mines,” he whispered, a little ashamed to be so scared.

“Ain’t no surface mines, boy,” she snapped, her slender nose wrinkling.

“Yeah? Then why you got a probe then uh?” Duo said, chin lifting.

“Mah white stick? Boy, Ah’m blind! Blind!”

“Naw,” Duo said, arms across his chest, calling out her obvious lie. “People don’t get blind. Paths sometimes blind. Salvage sometimes blind, but people ain’t blind.”

“Boy! Where you from?”

“L2,” he said proudly, feet wide, chin lifted, arms across his chest, braid swinging over his ass.

“Dat so,” she said, one bent old hand reaching up to her glasses which she pulled off, revealing eyeless sockets, the lids long since sewed closed.

Duo screamed straight up, loud and uncontrolled, as he simultaneously jumped backwards by several feet, landing on his ass in the rocky and overgrown yard. “Holy Mary, Mother of God.”

“Dat’s right,” she said, satisfied, putting her glasses back on, “On Earth, we got blind folk! Now pick yo’self up, get some wood, an come in da house, boy. It’s getting cold and it’s gon rain again.”

Duo sat there, hands on the ground for another few moments, before, face pale, eyes wide, he got up and scurried over to the wood pile. He gathered up like ten pieces, so many he could hardly see over the top, and crept into the house.

She pointed to a metal box with windowed door and a fire inside of it. “Put it over there. How many you bring?”

“Fifteen, about 8 kilo,” he said, kneeling down to stack it up like the other pieces were stacked. “What... happened to yer .. eyes?”

“There was an earthquake a long time ago,” she said softly. “Now wash yer hands and face, boy.”  She pointed facet and skin.

Head bowed, he scurried over to the sink. He wanted to ask what an earthquake was. Maybe it was like an old game he’d played, with fake guns and virtual reality, but Earth wide and real reality. He wiped his wet face on his dirty sleeve and his wet hands on the back of his pants. “So? So, yer a fighter?”

“What,” she asked as she ladled some thick crab bisque into a wooden bowl. “What? Why you think that?”

“Cuz you got hurt in a game,” he said, hurrying over to the table that she pointed to.

“No, boy. I said earthquake. It’s when the ground shakes.”

Duo sniffed the stuff in the short cup and it made his stomach dance around like it had gone insane, made his mouth get all wet. “You mean like from an impact or from real bad piloting? I’m a real good pilot.”

“Ah bet you are,” she said, sitting down on the other side of the table, both hands resting on the end of her white stick. “What’s yer name?”

“Duo,” he said, picking the cup up and sipping the stuff in it. “Oh damn,” he whispered, “This here’s real good.”

“It’s mah grandmama’s recipe,” she said. “So what you doin down here alone, Duo?”

“Ah came to look at it,” Duo said, between gulps of soup. “It’s so big!”

“It? You mean da world?”

“Yeah, the Earth. It’s big. How come you don’t live in a palace? I thought everyone lived in palaces.”

“Dis is mah palace,” she said, “I’ve lived here since I was a born, and my mom, and her mom, and her mom, going all the way back to when Edward English brought us here.”

“Where’d you come from,” Duo asked, his stomach growling.

“You can have more soup,” she said, pointing to the big pot. “It’s over there. My people came from Africa.”

“I’ve never hard of that colony,” Duo said, lifting up onto the balls of his feet so he could see in the big pot. With ladle he got himself some more.

“There’s bread there too, just to the side,” she said, pointing with a crooked old finger. “And you ain’t never heard of Africa? That’s a continent, not no colony. Earth got seven continents. Right now we on the island of HIspaniola, in the country of Haiti.”

Duo picked up the whole little loaf of homemade bread, sniffed it. It smelled like bread... but different, better, a little more like beer.  He licked it, then took a bit before hurrying back to where he’d been sitting. “The sky is pretty.”

“Yeah, she is,” the woman said, “Mah name Madam Vic.”

“Thank you for the food, Madam,” he said, mouth only partially full of still warm bread.

“Madam Vic,” she corrected.  “So  you all by yerself, boy?”

He thought about telling her he was with an invasionary force, but couldn’t. “Yeah.”

When the rain hit the metal roof, Duo squeaked and ducked under the table, clutching the bread.

Vic snorted, her nose twitching  as she did her level best not to laugh. “It’s rain, boy. Ah told you it was gonna rain. It’s just water hitting the roof.”

“Not artillery,” he said, crouching, moving from one foot to the other.

“No, just rain,” she said, “It’s safe. Go out in it for a bit.”

He crept out from under the table, set the bread down on the thick wooden table and inched to the door.  It kind of looked like artillery, lots and lots of it, but there was too many projectiles and they weren’t exploding, really. The clouds moved away from the the full moon and he could clearly see the forming puddles. “A break in the hydro system?”

“No, baby,” she said, comfortingly. “It’s just water that falls from the sky.”

Slowly he stepped down from her porch, hand held out. The water was warmer than he’d expected and soft, gently even, soaking into his hair, his clothes, and the strangest feeling bubbled up in him. He started giggling and touching his boots down in the puddles, exploratory, then more vigorous, jumping and splashing in the moonlit rain. Arms held out, tongue out to catch the free water, he was almost singing, wordless, some primal hum that had been in the human line since before there were humans.

Vic listened to the splashes and dancing, the strange sounds, and was sure that a loa had come to visit her.

What Ties the Soul 4/?
By Max


Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing.


The strange brightly colored shorts and loose blue tee-shirt felt awkward and wrong. His long hair drying in a ponytail, Duo raced after Madam Vic.  “What... what is it?” He asked, squatting down in front of a big orange chicken. It pecked at some bug next to his big toe. He tilted his head, eyes locked with the dark black eye of the chicken for a moment as they stared each other down. “What’s it for?”

“That’s a chicken. Come here.”

Duo hesitated for a moment, still staring at the chicken until it made a clucky-clicky noise. His eyebrows shot up, lips tightening, as he tried to think about what kind of mechanics made that noise. It wasn’t like any music he’d heard before. It pecked right on his bare foot and he jumped up, scrambling back towards where Madam Vic held out a little metal bucket. He took it and stared at the strange white dirt. “What’s this?”

“It’s chicken food. Just scatter it around on the ground so they can eat it up,” she said, smiling.

Duo grunted, but took a handful of the course dry dirt and threw it out on the ground. Chickens from all over the year came running, wings out a bit. “Ohhh! There are so many! How come you got so many?”

“They lay eggs and they’re good to eat. You had chicken last night. You liked it just fine,” she pointed out.

His mouth dropped open. Chicken came from the bio printers. He’d seen them work. There were big vats of various stem cells. They could be triggered to be certain types of meat, then it just sort of dribbled out, or rushed out, depending on what the settings were. “But.. but,” he said, trying to see where chicken was... they were all bright colored, orange, reds, blacks. The chicken he knew was most definitely a pale pink or a light tan after it was cooked.

She and her stick tapped their way into a small barn. Duo squatted down to look at the chickens more closely, to watched them peck up their food. He put a pinch of the grainy stuff in his mouth, rolled it around a bit, then wrinkled his nose and spit it back out. “You guys got no tongues!”

“Boy! They chickens,” Madame Vic yelled, “Don’t eat chicken feed! It’s not for humans. Come here.”

He spread the last of the feed around and hurried over to where she was.  “How’d you know I tried it?”

“How would you know it didn’t taste good if you didn’t try it,” she asked, “And they do have tongues. Most livin things do. Now see what we got here?”

It was snuggled up in a little box with a round opening. The thing had a long black nose and shiny black eyes. “Here, give him this?” She held out a wedge of juicy red fruit.

“Is it a dog,” Duo asked leaning over to look at the thing as  he held out the fruit. It took a bit, chewing on it happily. Whatever it was, it made him feel all happy looking at it. “Can I pet it?”

“Yes, you can pet him. He’s a bat. He was hurt. He’s better now, but he seems to like it here,” Madam Vic said.

“You’re so soft,” Duo said softly, holding the fruit still so the little bat could take another bit when he was ready. “What’s your name?”

“He can’t talk,” Madam Vic, sounding slightly confused.

“Because he got hurt?” Duo asked, letting the bat lick his fingers.

“No,” she said, “It’s because he’s a bat. Only people talk.”

“Are you sure? He seems ... smart? What if he just speaks a different language? Some people do, you know?”

“Quel étrange garçon tu es,” she said, sounding more confident in French.

“Woah,” Duo said, eyes wide. “I didn’t bring a translator.”

“Why did you come here,” she asked.

The little bat was climbing up out of his box and Duo picked him up, petting him, looking at his wings, one of which didn’t work right. Duo traced his fingers over the curve of the good wing, enthralled. “I... I don’t know. I didn’t really want to kill Jean-Jackson. It’s all well and good to fight machines, but I wanted a thruster relay and a couple of servos off his mech, and it turned out he wasn’t dead. I guess, I wanted to see. The Sweepers are good to me and all, but if Earth is that rich - then why do they steal from everyone like that? I just wanted to see.”

“I’m glad you didn’t kill Jean-Jackson. He’s a good boy,” Madam Vic said.

“Uhn,” Duo grunted, still fascinated with the little bat as it climbed up on top of his head.
“Mami,” a joyful girl called as she ran into the little barn, “Mami!” She ran right into Madam Vic’s arms, hugging her lovingly.

Duo felt a jealous ache and turned away, giving all his attention to his new bat friend.

“Sylvie,” Madam Vick greeted her, “Say hello to Duo. He’s come a long ways to visit with us.”

The girl had skin like coffee, smooth and perfect. Her hair was done in dozens of little braids. Just a little older than Duo she was right at the edge of being a woman. She curtsied, her yellow ruffled skirt fanning out. “Bonjour, M. Duo! Welcome to Les Cayes!”

Duo blushed, a deformed batwing covering half his face. “Hey! It’s just Duo.”

“Duo,” she said clapping, smokey pink lips smiling, “We’re going to the beach, to surf, come with us!”

“That is an excellent idea,” Madam Vic said. “A trip to the beach would not be complete without a trip to the beach. You can sleep in my loft again tonight, Duo.”

“Okay,” he said doubtfully.  A big vat of water didn’t sound like a whole lot of fun though.

“Can I braid your hair for you? I’m real fast,” Sylvie said cheerfully.

Duo’s shoulders tensed, but she was just so cheerful, smiling like sunshine. Jaw tight, he nodded. “You gotta be careful with it though.”

“Of course! You got great hair,” she said, running forward to take his hand like they’d been best friends all her life. She paused, lifted the bat off his head and ran it back to her grandmother, before running back to get Duo’s hand.

Her hand was warm and soft, fingers strong as they closed around his, and that pang of jealousy turned into the fire of family, of belonging. He let himself be tugged out to a bench at the center of Madam Vic’s garden. With chickens scratching and strutting around them, flowers of all kinds growing lazy, tomatoes hanging lush, Duo let her turn him around. She had a small comb in the bag at her waist and before he knew it, she’d combed out his hair. Her fingers were super fast and sure as she braided his hair for him.

“How come you got such long hair,” she asked.

“Cuz,” he said, shoulders tightening again, violet eyes narrowing.

“Oh it’s no big deal or anything,” she said, tying off his braid with a thick black elastic. “You can do what you want with your hair. I just ain’t never seen nobody with such long hair. It’s super beautiful, that’s all.”

“Oh,” he said, studying the black elastic. “Thanks.”

“Where are you from?”

“Uh,” he said, “L2.”

“You sound American. Is that a city in America? I wanna see Hollywood someday! That’s where they make all the movies, right?”

“Uh,” Duo said, feeling like there was so much he didn’t know. The Sweepers had a collection of movies, but he hadn’t spent much time with them. Everything had been about learning how to kill the Alliance, to hurt Earth. “Uh.”

“That’s okay,” she said, patting his hand. “I’m sure L2’s a great place. Come on, we got to hurry or we’ll be late.”

“Okay,” Duo said, not feeling at all sure about going anywhere without his real clothes. These clothes felt like underwear.

“What’s the matter? Don’t you wanna see the beach?”

“Uh,” Duo said. “It’s just,” he paused. “These aren’t my clothes, ya know?”

“Mami, Duo’s clothes’ll be okay, right?”

“Bien sûr! Go!”

Sylvie smiled, motioning Duo to follow her. She had a little blue scooter, but only one helmet, so she put it on his head. “You’re my little brother today! No complaining,” she admonished as she fastened the chin strap.

Soon they were flying along a coastal road with just enough forest to hide the ocean. It was a short trip though and half a dozen friends waved greeting as they pulled up. “This is Duo. He’s from L2.  He’s Madam Vic’s guest and my little brother today!” She jumped off the scooter, pointing out her friends, “This is Alex, Voltaire, James, Esther, Tam, and Lovie!”

“Hi,” Duo squeaked, holding onto the helmet where it sat on the seat in front of him now.  They circled around him, patting him on the back, shaking his hand, grinning, and the initial terror turned into a much brighter flame of acceptance, of warmth.

He helped carry a cooler and an umbrella over a dune and onto the beach. When he set them down, that’s when it hit him, the huge blue thing that seemed somehow vaster than space. Hands on his cheeks, he stared. He knew it couldn’t be possible. It couldn’t be bigger than space. It was just part of this little planet, that looked no more imposing than a dot of light for most of his life. “What is it,” he asked.

James, the oldest of the boys, who had his hair shaved close and white line drawing of curves on his shoulder, laid a hand on Duo’s shoulder, leaned close and whispered, “It’s water.”

“But,” Duo said, running a few steps forwards, a couple back, “But... it’s so big! That’s why it looked blue! There’s so much water! There’s more water than land! Why is there so much water?”

James laughed, hands on his hips, “Well, human activity warmed the planet over the last 1500 years.”

Duo felt like his head was going to explode. “What?”

Lovie wagged her finger. “There’s water because that’s how God made it. Have you been to space?”

“He’s from L2,” Sylvie said, as she set up the bigger yellow umbrella.

“You’re from space,” James said, awe on his face. “Is this your first time on Earth?”

“Yeah,” Duo said, eyes tracking the person standing on a small surface in the water, as the water lifted him up and rushed him forward. The water seemed to be pushing him out. “Is... is the water alive?”

“Yes,” Tam said, “But, well, there’s a lot of life in the ocean and life isn’t possible without the ocean.”

“There’s no ocean where I come from,” Duo objected.

“But there’s something that does the function of the ocean,” Tam insisted.

“Are there people living in the water?”

“Sure, mermaids,” Voltaire said, opening up a soda. “Ain’t you never heard of mermaids?”

Duo shook his head, fascinated.

Sylvie gave them a stern look. “There’s no such thing as mermaids, Duo. People used to think there were monsters in the water. There aren’t. Just other living things.”

“Okay,” Duo said, not really seeing the difference between monsters and living things. Most of the monsters he’d ever met were living things. “What is that! Can I do that?”

“Can you swim,” James asked.

“Sure,” Duo said, thinking it was an odd question. Swimming was what people did when they went into the reclamation vats. “I ain’t dead.”

“Then take my board, paddle out a bit, wait for the wave, then stand up and ride it.”

“Okay!” Duo said, grabbing the board and running towards the water.

“No!” Sylvie yelled, but she couldn’t keep up with him.

Seven tries and one round of CPR later, Duo managed to catch a wave. Screaming and giggling manically, he ran up and down the beach, and went back in for the eighth try.

As the sun faded, he sat on the dense wet sand, letting the surf rush over and pull at him. The stars started to peek through the velvet blue sky.

Sylvie sat down next to him, offered him a plate with a sandwich and a bottle of cold soda.

“I love this place,” he said solemnly, like a vow.

“Me too,” she agreed.

What Ties the Soul 5
By Max

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing

Warning: This chapter is violent. There is character death.

It was the first bite of sandwich, some of it still in his mouth, that tipped the world sideways.  “Oh,” he groaned. His knees wilted to the sand and his arms sank down to his legs. “Uhg.”

“You okay,” Sylvie asked, “Oh God forgive me, you’re all red!”

‘Uh,” Duo asked, managing to turn his head to her, though that felt like a lot of effort. “What?”

She touched the tip of her fingers to his bare shoulders. “You’re burning up! You’re sunburned. Oh God help me, you’re a white boy. You’re burned to a crisp!”

“Naw, no,” he protested, as he wondered if he were falling over backwards, kind of slow like. “Been in the water all day.”

“Oh Jesus have mercy,” she shouted, “James! He’s got heat stroke and I think he’s dying!”

James ran up, followed by a couple of the others.  Duo smiled up at them from where he lay on his the sand. They were so pretty.  Friends. It was nice. It was what he was looking for. Family. So he didn’t mind at all as he slipped into darkness.

<><>

Jean-Jackson wanted to wipe the blood trickling from his busted lip, but both hands were cuffed to the table. Dark brown eyes glared at the Alliance captain sitting on the edge of the interrogation table filing a fingernail. It was her second file. The first one lay on the table, just out of his reach, covered bright red blood.

A blonde curl lay against her pink cheek. “Now, we’ve established I’m not part of the local boys, right?”

“Well, it’s Haiti,” he said with a smirk, “It ain’t like there’s a lot o’local boys.”

“I suppose it’s a quality issue,” she said, wrinkling her cute little nose. “Where’s the boy? We know you helped the criminals kill your whole squad and we know you came back to Earth with a spy. Where is he?”

Jean-Jackson shrugged. “I don’t know. He ran away from me as soon as we landed. He’s not a spy though. He’s just a kid. I don’t think he’s mentally stable.”
“All spacers are a little crazy. It’s the lack of gravity. Is he a nigger too? Is that why he saved your worthless ass? What was his name?”

His face pinched in disgust.

“Oh, you don’t like being called a nigger, baby?” she asked, tapping her file against the table, then tracing the sharp tip against the bloody swelling skin between his thumb and fingers, where she’d planted her other file. “What’s his name?”

“He said his name was Death,” Jean-Jackson said, eyes locked with hers as she sank the file back into his hand.

Distantly she purred, “What’s he look like, brother?”

Mouth dry, the void growing just behind the back of his throat, Jean-Jackson clenched his eyes shut, telling himself to just breath through it. “Baron Samedi. He looks like the Baron.”

“Now we’re getting somewhere,” she said, leaving the file piercing his hand. “Tell me about this Baron Samedi. Is he a local big shot? Is he a gangster? Does he keep all you niggers in check?”

Shaking, hair standing on end, not even trying to stop himself from crying, thick lips trembling with rage. “He’s the fucking God of Death, bitch. He’s going to dig yo grave.”

She said something that he couldn’t understand as she twisted the file in his hand. “You niggers always cling to your superstition. That’s why you’re still niggers.”

<><>

Duo felt the coolness roll over his skin and it felt like fire being put out, so good. Everything felt so good. As he opened his eyes, the world was filled with a pale blue. He loved blue, most of all he loved blue. A hard smooth mask covered his mouth, giving him clean cool air to breath. The gel around him slipped between his toes, over every part of him, washing him in the sweetest comfort.

Sylvie reached into the gel and brushed his hair out of his face, her warm fingers brushing over his skin and he remembered her calling him her brother, which made him cry, which made her lean closer and speak to him, though he couldn’t hear her. He had a sister now! He had a family! His family.

Then he realized there was a line connecting to his arm and another person, with lighter skin and almond eyes was injecting something into his line. Those almond eyes were so beautiful. There was spikey hair like an explosion of black. As he dropped back into sleep, that man was the most beautiful man he’d ever seen and the beauty hit him in his low belly, made his mouth water as if he were hungry.

<> <>

“There boy, just rest a bit more,” Madam Vic said, her bent and cooler fingers combing soothingly through his bangs. “Dr. Wong says you’ll be fine, just rest a little more.”

He snuggled down on her lap, drawing his knees up, one hand on her knee. He didn’t know what this feeling was called, feeling like he was in the right space, breath even and steady, like the universe had turned into a warm cushion. “‘Kay,” he muffled, slipping back into sleep.

When he woke again, he was laying on the bed in the loft.  He wore just shorts like he had had on the day before, but new ones. He was never going to leave. This was it. He’d stay right here. Everything he’d ever wanted was right here.  He was going to learn to be the greatest surfer! Grinning crookedly, his bare feet swinging in the air because they didn’t reach the ground, he couldn’t stop grinning and he didn’t know what this feeling was called, but he liked it!

Then he noticed the small black stealth generator sitting on the floor half a meter from the bed.  Senses kicking up, the air was ionized.  Hair standing up, he silently got up, found his boots, his shirt, his cross.  As soon as he crossed the stealth barrier, he could hear the people below the loft.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Madam Vic said. “Jean-Jackson is one of my parishioners. I know nothing about a boy from space.”

The sound of skin hitting skin flared hate through Duo, a black flame of hate that sent corruption through him more vast than the great blue ocean. He grinned, violet eyes sparkling madly.

“I have your granddaughter outside,” the blonde woman said. “She doesn’t understand her place in this world, but if you don’t tell me where he is, I’m going to let my men show her. All nigger women are whores. But you know that right?”

Duo didn’t know what the word nigger meant, but he already didn’t like it.  So there was this woman, enemy targets outside. Blood lust, the desire to wreck those that hurt him simmered and boiled, so familiar, so sweet, so safe, a much older home.  

“Raping my granddaughter says nothing about her, but a lot about you,” Madam Vic said. “We are what we do,” the old woman snarled, words laced with shame that was acid on Duo’s nerves.

It was true though.

He dropped from the loft without a sound, landing in a crouch, madness sparkling in his eyes.

A look of terror flashed on Madam Vic’s face, and it only made Duo’s hate flame brighter. The forming bruises on her face, her bleeding lip, and Duo snarled like an animal.
The blonde captain drew her pistol as she turned, but Duo was rising, his unnaturally strong hand grabbing hers, re aiming the pistol at the base of her chin. Their eyes locked and all bravado and authority left her completely as she stared into his mad violet eyes. He grinned at her joyfully before ripping the pistol from her hand and using the grip to put a sizable imprint of her skull a few centimeters into her brain. The shock stayed on her face, her eyes wide and disbelieving as he lowered her to the floor.

Pistol in one hand, he grabbed a knife from the table and opened her throat, put out both her eyes. Medical tech could do a lot, but she hit Madam Vic and he didn’t want her coming back. Knife tucked under a small strap on his sleeve, he searched her for useful items like a second clip and car keys.  He grabbed Vic’s stick, which had been set out of her reach and put it in her hand. “Get down, stay down,” he said firmly, nothing at all like a little boy.

He peeked outside, found six other targets, all standing around Sylvie and James. James was laying on his side, bleeding. Duo tagged it as a gunshot, likely not fatal. Both he and Sylvie had their hands behind their back. None of the targets had their weapons out. All had helmets on. It took him several seconds to plan his shots.

He stepped out in plain sight, aimed for the throat. Blood sprayed from the first, second. They scrambled. He got the hand, and then the neck of the third.  Face shot on the four. The fifth was reaching for Sylvie. Duo screamed to draw his attention, a horrible inhuman scream of rage carried by a boy that learned rage before love. He leapt, mouth wide with snarl and put the sixth bullet between the man’s eyes.

Sylvie was face forward, hands clasped in prayer. The last man had a bigger gun out of their transport, some kind of machine gun that Duo had never seen. The man didn’t seem to know where to find the safety or some element of it and in his moment of confused struggle Duo body slammed him, grabbed his face and beat it against the armored vehicle until the man went slack, blood painting the side of the pasty green metal. Pistol now in his pants pocket, in a build in cloth holster, Duo turned him and punched his throat until medtech wasn’t bring him back either.

“Boy!” Madam Vic yelled at him.

He spun, hissing, blood dripping from his hands.

“Boy!” She said again, approaching him her hand out, her stick tapping towards him.

“Mami,” Sylvie cried out in fear.

But Madam Vic’s hand was already smoothing over Duo’s blood stained cheek, touching him through the darkness. Only then did he realise so many of the chickens were dead, shot or kicked to death and he cried for the little chickens. Her bent thumb rubbed his tears. “Duo, you are good.”

“I kill.”

“You carry the loa of Baron Samedi. He chose you, but no one dies if the Baron has not dug their grave.  The Baron is the god of death, but also of life. He carries justice. You are the Baron Samedi.”

“Do you hate me?”

“No,” she said, drawing it out, as if that were the most stupid thing she’d ever heard, her arms wrapping around him, pulling him close to her, blood and all. He stood at tall as her chest and melted into her embrace like a lost boy. “You are always my boy.”

After a moment, his arms wrapped around her tightly. “I’ll protect the Earth, everyone. I won’t let anything bad happen!”

“We all do what we can and there is nothing more to ask,” she said, kissing his blood splattered hair. “You came to use because he called you here, Duo. You carry the greatest loa.”

“I’m the god of death,” Duo whispered.

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