Author: CONTACTcon-589113507 Sparkle Itamashii
Title: Through the Storm
Warnings: Respect the rating. See my profile for rating details.
Disclaimer: Please see chapter thirty of this story for official disclaimers and due credit.
Notes: Yes, I am reposting this. I took it down to revamp it, and after a couple years realized that was never going to happen. So this is Storm, in original form, for all those who enjoyed it the first time. If you're new to the story… well, enjoy the ride!
Please do not take, distribute, or archive without my permission.
/There's no where left to fall
When you reach the bottom
It's now or never/
I couldn't, for the life of me, tell you who botched it. I don't even really know how it happened, how we all ended up in such an awful situation- and trust me, it was awful. The only escape I remember pondering was possible was suicide. I'm grateful someone was still thinking, that we were all still on our feet by the time we found our way out. As much as I'm willing to sacrifice my life for the good of others, I'd rather not throw it away, and I'm going to try everything in my power to remain alive.
Maybe… maybe I should start at the beginning.
We'd all ended up back on Earth again- man, what a gorgeous place- trying to help things out. Relena had offered Quatre and me sanctuary in one of her residences, which we gladly took. It must have cost her somewhere, somehow. I'm sure there were a lot of people throwing fits over it, but she did it anyhow. She does a lot for us, but it's mostly in a backward manner. I understand that you gotta stick to your beliefs, no matter what. What you believe in can often define who you are. She's fighting for peace every bit as much as the other pilots and I are fighting for it. Pacifism is her way, slaughter is ours. We get along nicely, despite all that.
Anyhow, Quatre and I were just making sandwiches- peanut butter and jelly, if you want to know- when his phone started going off like mad. Quatre's really funny that way, still carrying a cell phone and equipping it with cute little jingles for different people. Of course, I suppose we're all just as funny for carrying matching ones, so we can call him. From the ring tone I could tell it was Trowa, but this was different, Quatre wasn't smiling. He looked at me with those eyes that say a million things, his hand gripping that phone so tight his knuckles were turning white. It still got to him, bad, that we had to fight everyone; that we ever had to kill other people. He always wore that same hurt, saddened expression on his face as he listened to the mission information. It made me want to give him a hug, but I restrained myself.
He thanked Trowa, and they spoke briefly afterward, a much more normal conversation this time. After a few calming breaths Quatre was under control again, relaxing as he hung up the phone and offered me a weak attempt at a smile. I took it for face value, though, because sometimes you just gotta know when to let things slide. I didn't want to say anything first- I knew Quatre would speak on his own time. It's almost like a rule between the gundam pilots.
"We've got a new mission." Quatre said blandly, with far less emotion than I would have expected.
Now a mission isn't a big deal. I mean, it is because we could die, but then again we could die walking across the street, mowed down by a school-bus or something. Missions are not such a big deal because they are more of a regular in our lives than anything else except maybe each other's presences. This though… this was something else, I could tell.
"For all five of us."
There we go, I knew there had to be more. Generally speaking we don't normally go on missions where all five of the gundams are involved. What forces out there would take on all five of us and survive? Not many, if any at all. This was big. I knew that even before he gave me any of the mission details. We were being given a shot at the leaders, at the head of the OZ organization. Even that prick Tuberov was going to be there, down from outer space. It was a fantastic opportunity, a way to finally make some deep cuts into the organization we had all come to hate.
After the Romafeller foundation practically collapsed, its support being ripped away from it in a movement inspired by our very own little Relena, OZ had taken a turn for the worst. With Treize's death came a wave of revolt unlike anything previously seen. For a short period of time it had seemed like the OZ soldiers had gone entirely berserk- they were killing off anyone that got in their way, regardless of whether they had been friend or foe in the past. Several people gathered to their situation, however, and clawed handholds for themselves, snaking into positions of power and taking control of the veritable army. The war had taken a violent turn from fighting for peace to fighting for survival and finally we were fighting for peace once more. This had become a fight to free everyone, everywhere from being dominated by the tyrannical force into which OZ had manifested itself.
Oh, we knew it wasn't going to be easy to bring them down, not by any definition of the word. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. Despite that, I already knew we would have to do it, or at the very least die trying. That's how close it came, too- we almost died trying.
I hadn't seen the others in weeks, save for Quatre and Relena. I didn't even know where they were, where they had ended up after we reached earth. It's not like I couldn't have just called them to find out where they were… but our lives have this nasty habit of going wrong at the worst possible times, and I can imagine calling Wu Fei to see what he's up to only to find out he was hiding from some OZ soldiers inside one of their bases and the cell-phone ring gave him away. My hide would be his when he got away, if he got away at all. So in the end no one called anyone else, and we all just worried about the others in our group. Better safe than sorry, though, I suppose.
"Without the gundams." Quatre finished, interrupting my self rant.
Now that, THAT was the REAL catch. Sure, there were no forces on earth that could bring the five gundams down if we worked together… but the pilots on their own, now we're a different story. I can't even begin to relate the number of times we've been caught and imprisoned and shuffled around before we could escape. Human beings are greedy and power-hungry. I guess the light side of that same aspect of humans is that that has been what's kept us alive so long. Everyone sees a use for the gundam pilots, if they can just get them on their side. We're tools, and no one wants to break the best tools out there if they think they can use them.
So we were going in alone, with not even the help of our other halves to aide us. I should have known right there, I should have stopped it right there and told Quatre no way, there was no way we'd be able to do it. I should have refused the mission. But I didn't. I couldn't. How could I? I was supposed to be able to sacrifice my life for the missions, for peace… This though… this was ludicrous. Even if, and we're talking a MAJOR if here, even if they weren't expecting the five of us, the entire place would probably be armed to the teeth simply because of the company. Say we even make it inside… We make it in and manage to off those we're supposed to. What then? Are we expected to make it out alive?
Actually… probably not. We probably weren't supposed to make it out alive. It would be convenient, wouldn't it? I mean, two of the real forces in this war would be taken out with one clean swipe. If we pulled it off there wouldn't be much of an OZ left to speak of. Then again, there wouldn't be much of a gundam team to speak of, either. So what do you do with options like that? It was obviously a suicide mission… but if we succeeded we'd be pretty disposable anyhow, seeing as there wouldn't be a war to fight in any longer. So it didn't matter if we could have made it out or not. It'd probably be easier if we died, instead of having to find a new place in the world.
I suppose in the end it wasn't really up for debate. We were going whether I thought we'd live through it or not. They were all going, the other pilots would all be there. I couldn't let them down by hiding, by running away as I've done on more than one occasion in the past. I had to go, I had to try. If, for absolutely nothing else, then to see them again, I would go. I would risk it all to see the only family I had left, for the chance to see them for what could have been the last time, ever.
So we left. The rendezvous date was two days from that phone call. It was quite a ways away. Trowa called once more to tell us where to meet up with them. We left the gundams far enough away that they would be left alone until we could get back to them. Their self-destruct mechanisms had been set on self-timers. We had about thirty hours to get back to them or they would blow. That way, if we didn't make it out, OZ wouldn't be able to salvage them, use them against the forces we were fighting with. It was with heavy hearts that we left them there, stealing into the early dawn. We didn't think we'd make it out.
Don't get me wrong, I don't go into missions hoping to die or anything. I'm rather hoping we'll live through it to fight again… but in my world you just have to expect that you are going to die and be thankful when you don't. That's just the way it worked. I knew we would make it in- making it in is always the easier part. After all, when you're going in, no one knows you're there, no one's on the lookout for you, and most of the time… there aren't a lot of people out for your blood. Yet. When you're trying to get out, though… That's the tough part. People know you're there. Maybe, if you're lucky, they don't know who you are, but after more than two years of fighting, of piloting the gundams, and getting shifted through all the forces… people knew our faces almost as well as they knew the faces of the other major powers in this war.
Getting inside was easy, just like I thought. We put down a couple of guards (or rather, Wu Fei put them down for us) and slipped inside. Things were quiet, for once. I expect they didn't think many people knew about this, maybe they even thought that only the people attending knew about the meeting at all. They sure had picked a secluded enough spot. One of the old manors from some rich minister or another- hell if I can remember, it wasn't important in the least. The manor backed right up to the ocean, an absolutely breathtaking view to the west, when the sun set. The problem, I have begun to suspect, is that the manor was also built atop a cliff that has up-taken the bad habit of eroding into the sheer drop of ocean beneath. Huge chunks of the cliff have obviously slid down, disappearing into the water over the years, and it's really creeping up on the manor itself. I don't expect it'll be a full building for much longer, which would explain the absence of the original owners.
So we positioned ourselves just fine. I even spotted Heero, standing front row as calm as ever, waiting for the key players to show themselves. Waiting never was my forte, but it's times like that that make it even harder. Sitting there, waiting to cap some official looking person between the eyes, knowing that there's more of a chance you're gonna end up in the same situation as the person you just put down than there is a chance of actually escaping. Luckily for me, it wasn't long before they paraded themselves to the front, right up on the stage with the lights probably blinding them, and every eye in the place upon them. Eight of them. Five of us. Heero, Trowa, and Wu Fei were responsible for getting out two shots before they tried to disappear into the crowd. It should have been me, but even I have to admit… they are better shots. Don't tell them I said that.
Five minutes into the first of the speeches was when I knew something had gone wrong. I didn't have to hear the message-boy who ran across the stage to talk to the speaker- I knew what he was saying. Four shots rang out and as four of the people onstage dropped, blood spattering across the floor and chairs, I realized one of the shots was from my own gun. So I wasn't the only one to figure it out. Panic was spreading as two more shots rang out. Tuberov was the last man standing when I realized one of the three responsible for a double shot had been found. I turned my gun on Tuberov in time to hear a final shot before a flurry of gunshots drowned out everything else. The guards had seen Heero.
I'm not much for sticking around when things get sticky. In fact, that's one of my least favorite activities, but this… This was Heero. Leaping off the second story balcony didn't seem like such a big deal, especially since we jump down from our gundams all the time. Hitting the floor was another story all together as my shins felt like they were going to explode. People scattered from where I landed, and I heard shouting over the gunfire. My ears were adjusting. Heero returned fire and disappeared, only to appear next to me, dragging me with him. The corridors were blocked off and we were met with gunfire.
This is when I realized how badly we were in it. Originally, this hadn't been meant as a trap, that much I was sure. Most of the people onstage had not been expendable just to catch us, especially with our reputations. They had been alerted that we would show, though, and that was where things got messed up. The only thing I really couldn't figure out was HOW they knew. Quatre and I hadn't told anyone, not even Relena when she had asked, and we KNEW it had hurt her that we couldn't even tell her. Heero doesn't know many people to tell, Trowa wouldn't have told anyone, and Wu Fei isn't around people enough to tell anyone. The doctors would have told each other and us, or rather, Trowa. Where in this equation is there room for someone else to know, please, tell me?
They had let us in, that much was clear. They wanted us inside. They were not, however, going to let us out, at least not alive. Heero and I vaulted to the stage and dashed behind it. We were met with more gunfire, but we didn't have time to get around the thick curtain. Wu Fei dropped from the catwalk above us and the three of us effectively put an end to the gunfire. Quatre and Trowa were still unaccounted for, which made all of us nervous. We booked it to the nearest exit and ended up in a corridor that was unguarded. There were no people, in fact. From the looks of it they wanted us in that room, and didn't expect we'd make it out. I hadn't even expected to make it out through that. Needless to say, we ran like there was no tomorrow- because lets face it… if we didn't make it out, there really wouldn't be a tomorrow.
Honestly, I am telling you, it took days to get to the outer edge of the manor, to where we could escape to the outside; an eternity, a lifetime… a few minutes of reality, I am sure, but desperation tends to warp a person's sense of time. Quatre popped out of a doorway and dragged Heero into a smaller room. They struggled briefly before Heero discovered they were on the same side, something I teased him about until we heard guards running up the stairs. Trowa was busting the window out- obviously he'd been rescued, though it was clear it had not been without mishap. There was a long gash down the side of his face and the blood dripping from it was staining his shoulder. Not that it was noticeable, as the bullet wound was doing a fairly good job of ruining the garment all on its own. Why was I thinking about Trowa's stained shirt? I can't honestly say. The things you notice when you're running for your life…
The guards had reached our floor and were banging open doors at the ends of the corridor. Quatre climbed onto the windowsill and leapt, closing his eyes. Four stories up was going to be a filthy amount of pain upon impact, but all of us could make it. Wu Fei and Heero leapt next as I kept watch at the door, Trowa told me to hurry up as he climbed up and jumped. I ducked backwards and leapt onto the windowsill as the searchers reached our room. My wild leap out the opening was hotly followed by numerous rounds of gunfire. Hitting the ground from the fourth floor was so much more painful than hitting the ground from two stories, but I didn't have time to reflect on this new level of pinching pain as I scrambled to reach my comrades. They had reached the cliff, the one overlooking the ocean.
Someone, I can't recall who it was, shouted that we were going to have to jump, or we'd never make it. Looking down it didn't really look like we'd make it anyhow. The clean, blue ocean seemed a straight drop down into frigid water. There was nothing for miles, and with autumn upon us… We'd never make it far before freezing to death. Still, they were closing in behind us, shouting and firing, dropping ropes from the broken window, and we all knew that we wouldn't live very long anyhow if we continued standing still. We always stood the chance of getting captured, although I can't say the thought was much more comforting. It was such a long, long jump, and the water didn't look very inviting, but the idea of spending another month in the care of those people, or worse the rest of eternity dead seemed like a worse option than the water any day.
In the end, I made a decision for everyone. I could hear my own voice telling them 'Now or never!' but it sounded so far away. Before any of them could stop me I had closed my eyes and taken a flying leap off the cliff. It was great, the feeling of the wind against my face as I split through the sky in a downward dive. I was lost to the sensation of the moment, which may have been why I was so startled to hear Heero screaming after me.
"DUO, THE ROCKS!"
Oh. Remember how I told you that the estate was slowly eroding into the ocean? I think I must have forgotten. My eyes shot open as I hit the water and the world went from blinding white to black in an instant.
/End Chapter One, Through the Storm/