A/N: Hello! So I've actually been puttering around with this idea for quite a long time and finally have started to get it written down. If all goes well, Emergence will become a series of fics following the boys. I hope you enjoy!

~A Small Reunion~

"Hey guys, guess this is it. Sorry I couldn't come out and do it in person, but… yeah. Gonna miss you a ton. And don't worry, Quat, I'll take good care of myself. Didn't survive the OZies just to let myself get taken out by Bob rando or a cold or whatever. Wuffers! I already started chewing on that book list you sent me. Digital copies, I'm afraid. But hey, words should be the same, right? Tro, still gonna say go for it on Cathy's invite. Take it from another lost little orphan, if I found a scrap of family who was ready and willing to put up with my shit? I'd jump for it. And Ro, man…. If things had been different. You go and do something that makes you happy, you hear me? Actually, that goes for all four of you. So, um, I guess that's pretty much all I've got to say… Oh! One more thing. If there's a big emergency and you need me, get in touch with Howie, okay? He knows how to reach me. Alright, that's really it. You guys take care." {End of Video}

"If you hit replay again, I'm taking your phone, Yuy."

Heero glared, caught with his finger halfway to the button before he moved it away. "I wasn't."

Quatre wasn't convinced, concern painted all over his face as he looked at the other pilot. But Heero wasn't about to budge, and at last the blond held his hand out for the phone. "Don't do this to yourself. He's alright. I know it."

"Who is?" Heero snorted and shoved the device into his pocket, ignoring the other's raised eyebrow. He would have to remember to hide the screen better next time. "I wasn't worried. The idiot can do what he likes, wherever he wandered off to."

"Hm." Shaking his head, Quatre turned away to go back to his desk. "I think he'd be fascinated by all of this too."

All of this being the changes that'd cropped up with the Preventers within the last year. Or, really, the last four years. But this time a year ago, they'd all been working separately with their own offices and missions. Heero, Wufei, and Trowa on high stakes missions striking down arms factories, militias, and preventing more than one planned assassination on the ESUN leaders. Quatre with his office work in the local Winner Corp building, only even occasionally consulting with the Preventers on specific cases.

But with the number of those cases going down and, quite honestly, the competency of Une's other agents going up, there'd been some restructuring. A new task force led by the four of them. It'd been an important change, and a good one.

As for their fifth member, well… no one had heard from Duo since the end of the war, except for an all-too-brief return during Dekim Barton's revolt. Quatre's space heart told him that Duo was still alive, but none of their resources had been able to track him down. Even Heero's.

Which was something that still made the otherwise stoic pilot twitch. Not that he would admit to it, even as his phone burned a hole in his pocket as he likewise headed to his desk. They'd all received the video the day after Duo had vanished initially, almost five years ago. Heero didn't know how many times he'd watched it since.

Heero hadn't quite made it to his desk when Wufei stepped into the shared office, carrying a stack of folders and the case for a data chip in his hands. He held a folder out to each of them, sticking the chip into the projector to load up. "We have a new mission," he said, face grim. "Our sources have pinned down the main base of operations for the 'Lenders' ring. An estimated twenty Ariettes in their possession at this time."

"A tidy combination of merchandise and hostages," Trowa remarked softly, frowning. "But if we can shut them down at the source, we can get their customer list."

"And have a much larger number of victims retrievable. It's going to need to be a careful operation," Wufei said, nodding. "Which is why Une's informed me we'll be working with an additional lead."

Heero looked up from his folder. "Who?" They'd never needed anyone else on the team. The four of them and their carefully selected backup agents had always been enough. And half the time those had been Maguanacs who'd joined up when Quatre went full time.

"I wasn't given a name." Wufei put his folder down, lips pressed together. "But apparently the Emergence Council's decided that they want to have a liaison agent working with us. So all I know so far is that he's an Ariette."

That… was going to make things complicated.

A year ago, a new discovery had hit the news and shocked the world. A secondary, human-like species, fully sapient with language, culture, history, and fear. Lots of fear. Then again, that was understandable when they seemed to top out at six inches tall and had survived through hiding from Earth's top predator, human beings, who promptly captured and caged the first group found. And it'd only spread from there, more pocket populations found all over both earth and the colonies.

From there, it had taken a blessedly short time for the ESUN government to determine that these new people, no threat to the peace, deserved the same rights and protections as humans. The captured ones were freed with apologies and sent home with multiple copies of a letter of peace for their leaders. Unfortunately, it'd been almost immediately followed by their first known case of a tiny person being sold in the black market. And only after their rescue and the capture of seller and purchaser both had their governments made first official contact.

Or, rather, Relena had been contacted, specifically. Whatever they knew about the Sanq royal, she had apparently made an impression on them. And through that point of contact, they'd learned a lot about these new people.

They called themselves the Ariette Peoples. It was a new name, voted into being by an equally new council government. Until the 'disaster of discovery,' they had not had a centralized government of their own, or much of any at all, and many regions had their own, local names for themselves. They'd named their council the Emergence Council after their actions of coming out of hiding, willingly or otherwise. And it'd been one complication after the next since then.

Many Ariettes lived in places considered by humans as private property, and not all were willing to share with uninvited tenants. They didn't even have a total on how many families, villages, were being relocated for their safety while the laws on the issue were decided. And then there were those who saw the chance for profit, no matter how many laws they broke and no matter who suffered for it. The Lenders ring was one such group of people who dealt in Ariette slavery, kidnapping the vulnerable people and selling them as exotic pets and worse to those willing to pay.

That had been the inspiration for the taskforce they operated now. Their fellow agents could handle the regular work of the Preventers. THEY were experts in getting into places with delicate care, taking what they needed—or who—and getting out. And Quatre's empathy had truly come into good use in finding the terrified Ariettes so they could be extracted and soothing those needing relocation.

But, they'd never had an Ariette actually working with the Preventers. Until now.

"I don't like it," Heero said flatly. "We'll have enough hostages without bringing an unknown extra to have to look after."

"We don't have any say in the matter," Wufei said, looking at it. "It comes from higher up. He's in."

"Where is he then?" Quatre asked, blinking. "He should be here for the mission planning."

"Supposedly, he could be here 'soon.' That's all I know." Shaking his head, Wufei switched on the projector with the location details. "We'll get him caught up when he arrives. Now, we've managed to get hold of the building layout—"

"Quatre, is something wrong?"

Heero glanced over to the blond at Trowa's quiet question. Quatre's face was fixed in a small frown, a hand rubbing over his chest.

Seeing the eyes on him, Quatre quickly dropped his hand. "I'm fine. Sorry. Wufei, you can keep going. It just feels like—"


Heero glared at the phone on the desk, WILLING it to go silent. "Ignore it," he said, turning back to the projection. Whatever it was, it could wait. But the phone had different ideas.



Motioning for them to wait a moment, Wufei picked up the phone to answer. "Chang." Immediately, his eyes went wide. "Maxwell? Where—"

Duo?! Heero all but lunged forward to snatch the phone from the other man, pressing it to his ear. "Where are you?" he demanded without preamble.

"Haha, nice to talk to you too, Ro. Glad to hear you've missed me," Duo's voice, that painfully familiar voice, said from the other end of the line. "How're you doing?"

"Duo, where are you?" Heero repeated through gritted teeth, glaring at the phone mount as if it was at fault for Duo's evasion.

The voice laughed softly, and Heero could almost see that smiling face he'd only ever seen on a screen. "I'm not too far away. In fact, tell Quatre I said hi, okay?"

Quatre? Slowly, Heero turned to face the empath. Quatre didn't look back at him, however. No, instead he was staring up towards the upper corner of the room. Where there was an air vent.

"Don't move an inch," Heero said sharply before handing the phone back to Wufei. The vent was too high to reach, so he grabbed a chair and brought it below the vent to climb up onto. Immediately, he saw a flicker of movement. The pilot squinted his eyes to see inside better and went still.

Violet eyes watched him from the shadows on the other side of the vent, sparkling with mischief just like he remembered. It was unquestionably Duo, sitting here so close after they'd searched for him for so long. And as he stood up, he was only as tall as Heero's hand was long.

"Hey there," Duo said with a small, stepping forward so miniature fingers could slide out between the vent slats. "Hear you guys were waiting for me."

Duo Maxwell, pilot 02 of Deathscythe, was their Ariette liaison.