"""January 1, AC 197

I sat down here at the plain desk at L2 about an hour ago, intending to finally write down the story of my life. I mean, it's peacetime now, shouldn't I be able to lift some of that weight off my shoulders without hurting myself or anyone else? Yet, I'm hesitant to do so. I've kept it inside for so long now; I can't let it go without a fight.

That's what I've been doing for the last hour. Fighting with myself. For even as I yearn to tell someone about all this, even if it's just a cheap, two credit notebook, I still can't shake the feeling that it will 'compromise the subject'. The subject, of course, is me. Sheesh, I still can't believe I'm able to speak like that, unfeeling and precise. It's so Heero-ish. If he's on a mission that is.

Hn. I guess if I've come this far, I can as well continue. Reading my previous writing over, I've dropped enough hints already. If Heero ever reads this, he will probably think up a 99% accurate theory on my unintentional little slip-ups so far before even reading this. But then again, he will never get his hands on this book. That, I've seen to long ago.

The first thing I remember in my life is pain. Pain so strong it makes me want to die, pain originating from deep within the base of my neck, burning its agonizing way outwards to my skin. And without looking or feeling, I know I'm bleeding heavily at the base of my neck.

The second thing I remember is blinding lights. Not because they hurt my eyes, but because they didn't. And let me tell you, it feels very strange to have your pupils contract to almost nothing, compensating for the sudden mass of light. It doesn't look very nice either, have I been told.

The third thing I remember is restraints fastened everywhere on my body, holding me down to a hard table. People dressed in white lab rocks and goggles are standing everywhere around me, and they are upset. Not because I'm feeling pain, but because I'm quickly starting to get immune to it.

I remember a dark eyed man glaring at me, jabbing me sharply at the base of my neck, directly at the deep flesh wound. Just a minute before that, it would have made me scream in agony, but now, it doesn't even make me blink. And he said: "Damned kid! The mark won't disappear no matter how much of the skin and flesh around it we remove. Could it be genetic? Could we have made such a huge mistake?"

He didn't speak anymore after that. It is rather hard to speak when you have a crushed chest after all. I don't think they counted on a mere child being able to pack such a punch. After that, my memory goes rather hazy though. I believe there were lots of fighting, running and screaming though. Yet, the next thing I remember is lying on a dirty street, my head in the lap of a slightly older boy with fiery red hair and grey eyes.

"Hey kid!" he said. "Ya look like a truck ran over you or something. Did ya get in trouble with the Fed troops?"

I didn't know what he was talking about, and so I just shrugged. The boy seemed to take it in a stride though, helping me to get to my feet.

"I'm Solo," he cheerily introduced himself. "The Master Thief and the fastest street kid ever. What's yer name?"

I shrugged again. After all, I knew nothing about myself. All I could remember was the lab, running and then waking up here.

"Dunno," I said. "Don't remember."

The boy's face didn't change even a little during my reply. Now I know he was used to that answer.

"Well, then, kid," he said, flinging a lanky arm around my shoulders. "What shall we call you? Cat maybe? Or Ame? Short for amnesia of course."

I crinkled my nose at that. You didn't just call a guy Ame. It sounded so...I dunno...weird. Solo laughed at my response and shrugged.

"Think one up yerself then," he announced. "See if you can do better."

I glared at him, and before I knew my mouth had opened, it had sprouted out a sentence.

"My name is Shinigami," I icily said. "And you better remember it."

Laughter sprung from Solo's throat at that, a genuinely pleased laughter, laughter I always will remember.

"All right, Shinigami," he said.

That was the first time I met Solo. The self-proclaimed king of thieves, street rat and gang leader. He was the cockiest brat on this side of the galaxy, and that's saying a lot coming from me. Sigh, I guess it was contagious. Anyway, he took me under his wing that day and introduced me to his gang, consisting of a large network of kids, ranging between the ages of three to twelve. And even though he couldn't be very old himself, we all listened to him. He had something special about him, you couldn't ignore him. Besides, there was no dispute about that he knew what he was doing.

We were all orphans, thieves and criminals in general. Growing up without a home wasn't very gentle at L2 at this time, and we were grateful we had Solo. He taught us everything we needed to know. How to fight, how to run, how to lie, steal and get away from overenthusiastic law abiders. There's nothing as irritating as a bunch of people at your heals screaming 'stop that thief'. It was damned hard to get out of those situations in the beginning.

I grew up during the two years I got with the kids. It is the only childhood I had, and I view it as precious. Of course it had its ups and downs, especially during the plague when half of our number, including Solo, died, but there were also times of happiness, as when blonde little Caramel had managed to steal a box with ice-cream for Solo's birthday and we all feasted. Even though we didn't get much more than a teaspoon of ice cream, it was heaven for us.

I never was a normal street kid though, like the other brats. There was always something strange about me, nothing one could put a finger on, but it was there. Things kind of just happened around me. And then there were the mark and the malady. Well, if I must be frank, it wasn't a mark. It was a barcode, you know, like those you mark the stuff in the stores with? And it was fucking stuck in my neck. There was no way to get rid of it. But that wasn't the worst thing. I can practically hear you stare at me and incredulously say 'what can be worse than having a barcode permanently attached to your neck?' all over here. Well just listen to this. It is in the shape of letters, neatly spelling out the words Shinigami Final V. 3.6.6. If you don't call that freaky, there's something wrong with you for certain. Nowadays, I believe it was that barcode the lab people talked about when I first woke up. I'm probably right too.

The malady. Another mystery about me. I have this strange illness, have had it since the beginning. About thrice a week, I collapse into convulsions so strong they render me helpless. It hurts like hell, and when it first happened to me, I thought I was going to die. I didn't though, and after nearly dying because of them making me vulnerable, I learned to suppress them as long as I were still, making it look like I was sleeping. I kind of just lock my muscles and ignore it. It has probably saved my life hundreds of times, and it has certainly kept everyone clueless. The only ones alive today who knows about it are...well, no one. Professor G knew though, and he was the one who gave me the implant to control them. But more about that later.

I said before that Solo died. He died in a plague. A plague most of us street kids contracted and died of. There was an antidote though, and during those painful weeks, our first priority was to find it and steal it. I was the one who finally found it, giving it to the sick kids. It was too late for Solo though, and he died in my arms, making me promise to never cut my hair and to protect the other kids. Now that I think about it, I don't get why he wanted me not to cut my hair. Maybe he had a hair fetish.

It was this event that created the person I am today. Before Solo's death, I had just been the slender brat from hell, Shinigami, Solo's right hand. But after that, I took the name Duo in his remembrance. For he had been the one to make me survive, he was my 'father' in the only way I know. And yes, I know that sounds way weird. He is the Solo to my Duo. Isn't it ironic I ended up being best friends with Heero, Gundam Pilot 01? Another number one to my number two. But now I'm rambling. Let's get on with the story.

When Solo died, passing his mantle to me, the feds had already started to invade our 'peaceful' little colony. After a couple disappearances of my protégées, I quickly realized that L2 wasn't safe for us any longer. So, with my heart aching, I split our network of companions to save us. Not more than five in every group, I sent them off to different places at L2, snuck them onto transports between colonies, heck, once I even managed to sneak a dozen of my friends onboard a shuttle to Earth. I did everything to secure their survival. And even though I didn't save them all, I saved a large amount of them. I know that for a fact, as I've kept in contact with them for all this time. Or rather, they've kept in contact with me. I doubt anyone I know has realized it, but I have a rather inconspicuous and well-informed network of spies on my hands. I've always thought it to be rather paradoxical.

No doubt a bunch of you wonder how a small child could realize all this and figure it all out. Well, the answer is that I don't know. It's not normal, I know, but for me, it felt as natural as breathing. I knew what I was doing. And even though I have more clues to how I did it now than then, I still don't know quite how I did it.

But to skip back to L2. After the 'great emigration' as my friends from that time call it, I was left all alone with five children that chose to stay with me. If you can call them children. Neither of us knew our true age, but I would guess that we were between six and nine in age with me in the middle somewhere. Their names were Snake, Crooker, Jewel and Skipper. Sadly enough, none of them are alive nowadays.

Just a few weeks after 'the great emigration' our hideout was bulldozered to the ground and we were shipped off to a nearby church with an orphanage. It was there I got my formal education and found the love of adults. I mean, while I knew hundreds of ways to get food on the table and even more ways to render someone larger and stronger than you harmless, I couldn't read or write. And while my street siblings loved me, I had never had an adult care for me before. It was a novelty I never wanted to let go of.

It was at the Maxwell Church my braid saw the light of the day. I had never cut my hair before, and as Solo had loved it long, I wanted to keep it that way. Nurse Helen, my 'mother', had a different opinion though. We had a rather loud discussion over the matter until father Maxwell interrupted. The compromise was to have my hair tightly braided all the time. A new tradition was born.

Life at the church was good, and I revelled in being there for almost a year. I went to school, learned things and got to know the bright sides of humanity to opposite the dark sides I already knew. There were minor quarrels, but it was nothing serious. The bullies who actually went to hospital got out after just a couple of days, so no harm done so to speak. But then the Day came.

The situation at L2 was tense back then. Different fractions warred openly at the streets and death became everyday news to the colonists. I never had anything to do with it though; if you don't count the raids I led to their food supplies to help the kids to survive. The good Father and sister Helen disapproved of course, but there was nothing they could do. But then it reached us.

Soldiers came to our church and threatened us, cussing about not having a mobile suit. To prevent anyone from getting harmed, I volunteered to get the soldiers one. I managed, but at a terrible prize. When I came back, everyone was dead. Or in sister Helen's case dying. She blessed me with her dying breath, wishing me a good life. The massacre ended with over two hundred casualties. I was the only survivor, and it tore on my soul. There were many moments then when I pondered taking my life.

It is safe, as well as true, to say that I was caught up in the thirst for revenge after this. So angry was I, so desperate, that I contacted one of the fractions, the Deathscythe and begged to join them. They were hesitant at first, but they quickly came to understand the advantage they gained by using me. No one thought that a smallish kid was a fierce and unfeeling killer after all. I earned my name Shinigami over and over again the four years I stayed with them.

During those years, I learned more about death and destruction than even the wars taught me. The other soldiers in the group taught me everything I know about weapons, mechanics and stealth. And as I was a dedicated student in these subjects, I learned more, better than anyone would have thought. In the end, even my own group members started to fear me and my nonchalant attitude when it came to killing, no matter sex, age, race or religion.

The turnabout came when my fellow street kids called me to Earth on an important matter. The time in their loving company and their heartfelt sorrow over Snake and the others, helped me see what I had done wrong. I snapped out of my murderous rage then and realized what I had become. Then, I really tried to take my own life. I honestly believed I had no right to live. But once again, my friends stopped me. And after ranting at me for quite a while, they managed to make me realize that it was better that I lived and helped stop this madness, than that I died a pointless death when I could have helped. I decided to return to L2 and follow their advice.

That was the largest mistake I've ever done. Or maybe the wisest decision I've ever made. I'm not quite sure which one just yet. I had decided to lift with a sweeper ship back to L2 for the time being after visiting my kids at Earth. Ignoring the way the heavy security hinted towards the ship being an important one, I sneaked onboard. Soon, I got caught raiding the kitchens, and so I met professor G.

I still don't understand what Mr. I look like a mushroom saw in me back then. By all rights, he should just have thrown me out the airlock and left me to die, but instead he took me in. Maybe it was the fact that I slipped through his security system that did it. But he was interested in me, and soon he realized that he had taken in the perfect candidate to pilot the Deathscythe. Which I christened by the way. He didn't see me fit to be told though. Instead, he just taught me everything he knew and let me learn how to pilot a mobile suit. And eager little student me drank the information like a thirsty hiker in the middle of a desert.

I remember the first time he talked to me in private after I had been found lying on my bed, paralysed by the convulsions.

"You seem to have quite a nasty problem there," he said. "Is it something I should know about?"

I wasn't able to answer without letting go of my tight control over my body, but even then I knew the futile in resisting a Gundam creator. So I released my hold on my convulsions and sat up, curling into the corner with professor G watching me dispassionately.

"The malady," I managed to get out between clattering teeth. "I've had it since I was a kid. Dunno what it is."

Professor G just looked at me.

"Hn." He said. "I believe I will look you over. There's something abnormal about you. Not even the absurd kids today tattoo genetic letter barcodes on their necks."

Somehow, I wasn't surprised he knew of the be damned barcode. Do you know that I used to get stuck frequently in the stores because the alarms picked it up? It even went so far I had to steal something to keep them from looking at my neck. I mean, it's embarrassing for pity's sake to have the alarms shriek at you because of a tattoo. But that was before I got the oh-so-bright idea to carry around a scrambler for those alarms. Now those damn machines doesn't pick up either my barcode or the small items that happens to have found the ways into my pockets.

Anyway, I got that once over, and professor G quickly found out the abnormalities that is me. There is the malady and the barcode of course, but professor G revealed there is much more to the subject. You see, I'm not completely human. Someone has messed around plentiful with my DNA, so that it doesn't even resembles a humans if you're a skilled scientist. All scrap DNA has been just that, scrapped for example, and professor G found proof that animal DNA had been fused to my DNA. Apparently before I was born too, as it has created my very non-human body. Or have you ever heard of a human body with the abilities of the Felidae family? You don't know how embarrassing it is to start meowing, roaring, purring and snarling when you're emotionally upset.

He quickly realized the potential in this, and finally introduced me to Operation Meteor, even if he conveniently left out his future plans for me. He started to train me and made me make use of the abilities I was born to. So if you ever feel ill watching me stretch, blame G. He's the one who made me realize I have no problem scratching the back of my head with my feet.

I don't know if I should hate him or love him for what he has done to me. He trained me to kill, making me a master sniper, a talented hacker, an almost obsessed chemist with an obsession with explosives and a martial arts artist. He told me how to live, how to die. How to withstand torture of any kind, how to use weapons of any kind. And for that I hate him. But he also created the implant in my neck that controls my malady, keeping me from collapsing three times a week as long as I recharge it once a month. And for that, I love him. He was both my saviour and my death.

Oh well, that's the basic story of my life before I met the other Gundam pilots. I will write more some other time, but right now, my vid phone is beeping. Why do people keep on calling me when I'm doing important stuff?

Shit! I just checked the caller ID. It's Relena! What the fuck could she possibly want with me? She has her precious peace now after all, as well as her precious Heero. If he hasn't made his escape yet of course. But considering his injuries, that shouldn't be until at least tomorrow. Sigh, I guess the only way to find out what miss Vice Foreign Minister wants is to answer the call. See ya later, as Solo would've said.

Duo 'Shinigami' Maxwell"""