Note: I realized that I made a mistake in the previous chapter. The names pilot 01, 02, 03, and so forth are code name given to the gundam pilots by Oz. So I'll have to work around that mistake. Sorry.

Chapter 3: Matters of Importance

The flight deck was busy as the crew went about their business of the day. Even with their task at hand, a part of them was aware of the figure amongst them. Some stole glances at boy at the other end of the room who was too busy to acknowledge anyone. Many were uncomfortable at his presence, for he was different from them. Most of the crew on the ship was years older or veterans of war compared to their commanding officer. And yet he held their respect and awe so easily.

He was young, a fifteen year old boy. But his experiences in battle made him old beyond his years. He is their best pilot, even surpassing Colonel Merquise. He was declared in his file as a tactical genius, a hard pressing individual, but it was hard for many to see such a commanding presence in such a small boy.

Many made that mistake until they meet him, for his eyes were old. Cold and distant. Emotionless. In the few times those eyes expressed any emotion was his infamous fury. But he never abused his position as such, but his eyes would blaze complying of his displeasure.

Like now.

The crew watched from the corner of their eyes as Lieutenant Darien Mayser hunched over a report in one of the rear computer terminals; his shoulders were tense as he glared at the computer screen. No one bothered him as they watched him silently. No one dared.

Darien silently seethed as he continued typing in his report. He was tired and irritated; all he wanted to do was go to his quarters and sleep. Or better yet, find a willing crewmember, go back to his quarters and fuck. Relieves tension, he was told. But that was out of the question. He's never slept with anyone but Treize and he didn't think that the General was the sharing type. Besides, he was beginning to realize that his sexual attraction to anyone was dwindling.

He didn't find anyone remotely attractive enough to take to bed, male or female. Even when he hadn't seen Treize in four months, he didn't miss their encounters. To be fair, Treize is an attractive man, but to Darien, every time he began to feel something akin to affection for the general, his subconscious forced it back. He felt pleasure when they slept together, but it was always gone when they reached completion. There was no urge to relax and reflect in their afterglow. He always felt trapped.

Frowning he realized that he had finished his work. He shook his head as he forwarded the report to Zechs.

/Let Zechs deal with these reports, I'm done./

He stood up stiffly and tried not to wince when he felt his back groan in protest. He realized with a quiet scowl that he spent five hours writing reports. He needed to sleep and fast.

He turned to the night crew on the command deck to relay his orders just to observe that the commanding officer was already awaiting him. He tried to calm his impatience as he addressed the officer.

"You have the deck officer Jensen."

"Yes Sir."

Darien returned the salute before exiting the room; he felt eyes on the back of his head, but did not turn to confront them. He was tired and irritable and he feared what he might say in his impatience.

Luckily, he met no one in the corridors as he made his way to his quarters. He swiped his key and entered his room. He sighed with relief as he glanced around his sparse quarters. It was a plain white room with a bathroom on onside and a closet on the other. His chair and desk was standing nest to the closet and his bed was the only other furniture in the room. He didn't care for much, so didn't keep much. He refused the more spacious room that Treize had requested for him, giving it to Noin. To her great delight he might add.

With practiced ease, he removed his uniform jacket as well as his tie. Draping them over the chair he moved toward the bed when his laptop started up. In an instant his drowsiness disappeared as he moved toward the laptop. Seating down, his hands flew over the keys as he typed in his password and moved through the added security he placed there.

His heart raced as he watched the message that displaced upon the screen. He had to make sure his eyes were not deceiving him as he read the message a second time.

His hands were shaking as he realized the implication of the message. After years of waiting, it was time. For a brief moment his heart was torn. But he shook the melancholy away as he remembered his mission. There was no turning back. Every soldier must make a sacrifice for the great good; he was no different. Besides he will have his revenge.

He smiled as he type his affirmation of his orders. With no hesitation in his hands he sent it.

He sat back and watched the screen. In six hours. Six hours, everything he ever fought for would come to its pinnacle.

He stood from his seat and hurriedly pulled on his jacket and tie. It took awhile to straighten his appearance, for in his excitement his hands could not stop shaking. He stood in the middle of his room and tried to calm his racing heart. Patience…he must remain calm.

If Noin or Merquise saw him this way, there was no way he could hide afterwards. Relief flowed through him as he felt his façade move back into place. He nodded his head before leaving his room to make preparations. There was no way he could sleep now.

Heero Yuy accepted the mission before turning in his seat to glance at the other gundam pilots.

In the living room of the safe house, the four-gundam pilots have tried to stay productive as they waited for any upcoming missions. For the pass few months, there was no activity that aroused their handlers.

Wufei was busy reading a book; Quatre was hunched over studying a map, while Trowa sharpened his throwing knife.

Heero cleared his throat, and watched as Quatre turned to him.

"Yes Heero?"

"We have a mission."

That caught everyone's attention. Wufei closed his book and laid it on the coffee table. He tried not to let his sudden eagerness show as he faced Heero.

"We? We're all going?"

Heero nodded in confirmation. "It's a retrieval mission."

Quarte tilted his head in confusion. His blue eyes sparkled as he watched Heero with interest. "The professors want all of us on a retrieval mission? Why?"

"Lieutenant Darien Mayser."

Trowa nodded and quietly spoke up. "The professor wanted me to infiltrate the Mathos base a few months ago. Mayser was my target. I was to gather information on him for the professor. It seems that he reports to only two people. Colonel Merquise and General Kushranda. Interestingly enough, Mayser is also the General's lover."

Wufei frowned, "I guess that answers the question why the professors are interested in him. Interrogation."

Heero glanced at them before he handed out copies to each of them. "Quatre and Trowa are to provide cover fire while Wufei and I retrieve Mayser."

Wufei read over the mission details, "Wait. If we're going to retrieve this Mayser, why are we bringing our gundams Yuy? It would be illogical if we're to infiltrate the base."

"According to the professors, Mayser will be apart of the defense line. All we have to do is damage his mobile suit. Then retrieve him. We will both engage him. There are accounts of his piloting skills, we are not to underestimate him."

Heero stood up and moved to leave the room. "We have three hours to engage the enemy. I suggest we leave now."

Quatre nodded to Trowa before they followed the other pilot.

Wufei muttered as he moved to follow after them. "Why do I have a bad feeling about this?"

Darien kept his eyes on his mobile suit. For the past five hours he has been working on his suit. If he was going to survive this encounter, he better be up to par with gundam suits. Although the gundams are superior then Oz mobile suits, Darien has been making modifications on his.

He was not going to die today.

He heard the swift footsteps walking towards him, but did not have to turn to identify the person. He knew that presence anywhere. If he was a cat, his hackles would have risen and he would have hissed his displeasure.

/Why the hell did he have to come here/

He knew how childish he sounded but he couldn't help it. Whenever he was dealing with Merquise, he had an irrational instinct to insult the colonel. He didn't know why they never got along.

/Well. Besides our constant bickering and competitive streak, I have no clue why./ Right.

He shook his head as he turned to address the colonel. He saluted before he straightened his uniform. "Good morning colonel. What brings you down here?"

He tried to keep his tone formal while he gritted his teeth. He watched Zechs observe the soldiers moving about the hanger. The resentment that Darien felt almost appeared upon his face, as he took in the appearance of the colonel. In his red uniform, Zechs displayed better breeding than Darien ever had. At seven in the morning, Merquise looked ready to take on anything without hesitation. He was tall and alert; no weakness apparent in his arrogant stance.

"We agreed to a surprise inspection yesterday, remember Lieutenant?" Zechs raised a blonde eyebrow at the brunette. He was silently amused to see the irritation in Mayser's violet eyes.

For the past four months they have been at each other like cat and dog. Insults and even physical blows have been dealt between them.

But not to alarm the masses, they kept their physical encounters within the confines of the training room. The excuse of beating each other senseless was never questioned if they kept it there. For a small person, Mayser was very strong and aggressive. His stature made him fast as well. So they were always equally matched; which always ended badly for both. More times than not, they walked away bruised or with slight limps. Ironically, after every session, they always felt better, the tension gone, the satisfaction of victory warming their battered bodies.

The animosity was still present, but they managed to keep it from getting out of hand. Mayser still tried to respect the ranks and his position as colonel. He knew that Mayser respect him as he did Mayser, but they were creatures of habit, and both were unable to accept the other as a friend, they barely tolerated each other as comrades.

Zechs watched Mayser open his mouth to reply when the blaring of the alarm startled them both. They both exchanged looks of surprised before they rushed to the communications tower. With Zechs' long legs, he was able to beat Mayser up the stairs and into the room.

With batted breath he demanded attention, "Report!"

The communications officer stood at attention, "The gundams have been spotted colonel! Three kilometers to the west and approaching fast."

Upon hearing this news Darien narrowed his eyes. "Looks like that surprise inspection has to wait colonel." He didn't wait for a reply as he turned and quickly exited the room. He took the stairs two at a time hurrying towards his mobile suit.

"Mayser! Halt!"

Darien cursed as he turned and watched Zechs march towards him. "We don't have time for this Merquise."

Zechs glared down at the younger man. "Don't forget who your talking to Lieutenant. Your arrogance and impatience will get your squadron killed."

Clenching his fists he barked back at Zechs, the insult was grating on his nerves, "I know how to handle my own squad. The longer we debate about this, the more ground the gundams cover. Are we finished?"

Merquise held the violet gaze for a few moments before frowning down at him. /Stubborn ass./

"After this is over, I'll have a report written up about you and your insubordination." The silence that greeted that remarked was heavy.

"Then see ya later Merquise."

Merquise watched as Mayser turned and run towards the black mobile suit. Mayser's suit was unique in the whole squadron, it's black and silver exterior was grime compared to the red, blue and green mobile suit of Oz.

An easy target among them, but who was to say that Mayser would go down easy, or even at all; we'll just have to wait and see.

/Don't get yourself killed Mayser. I'll hate to have to explain that to Treize./

Zechs turned to make his way towards the command deck.

Darien watched as the gundams moved easily through the lines, destroying the mobile suits as they came towards him. For the last thirty minutes, they've been holding of the gundams, but for how long?

He tried to concentrate on keeping the rest of his team from being blown away when a plasma beam hit from behind his mobile suit. His hands shook as he tried to right his mobile suit. Four gundam pilots were not his cup of tea. He was tired and weary. His limbs protested as he blocked the plasma sword with his shield.

/This gundam pilot was good./

Darien growled as he pulled out his A-s-ray cannon and tried to shoot the gundam in the chest. The gundam pulled back before he could get a shot though.

He knew that even with modifications done with this suit, the gundam were more superior.

/But I have to stage this right, Oz has to believe that I-/

He bit back a cry of pain as his circuit board exploded and he was thrown from his seat; the buckles that strapped him in had snapped, but not before slamming into his ribcage. He gritted his teeth against the pain in his chest as he turn to watch the gundam with pilot 05 moved towards his fallen suit.

He turned on communications on all channels. "This is Lieutenant Mayser. I order a retreat. I repeat, I order a retreat. Return to base."

Unable to keep from crying out loud as he shift his battered body, he crawled through the cramped space of his cock pit, towards the reinforced shielding he created for just this purpose.

Once inside, he took out the detonator. He inhaled softly, "So long buddy." With a mournful last look at the insides of his mobile suit, he press the button and he blanked out for a few minutes as his surroundings exploded.

/Fuck that hurt/

Quatre watched the mobile suits disengage and retreat back to their base. "Heero. They're leaving! Is our target-"

The ground under his gundam shook as he heard the explosion. He turned his gundam only to see the black Oz mobile suit in flames. His heart stopped. /Oh no/

"Heero! What happened!"

He watched as gundam wing and shenlong stopped in front of the wreckage and their cockpits opened.

Over their secure line he heard Trowa's voice, "Stay alert Quatre."

He nodded even when he knew that Trowa could not see him. /Did we fail/

Wufei and Heero moved through the wreckage looking. They did not know how successful their search would be, but they had to follow procedure.

Wufei could feel himself panic slightly, wehen he delivered the blow on the mobile suit; he wasn't expecting such a disastrous outcome. /No one could have survived this./

He glanced around at what was left off the suit. He was about to turn to avoid the flames when he caught movement from the corner of his eye. He lifted his gun and turned back. His eyes widened when he came face to face with a boy about his age pointing a gun at him.

He was wearing an Oz officer's uniform. His face was bruised and dirtied from the smoke and ruins. His whole frame was shaking but his hand holding the gun was steady. There was a long brown braid that dangled behind him like a serpent as he silently observed the Chinese pilot. Wufei was surprised to see eyes of that color on anyone. Amethyst stones glared back at him, set in a pale face covered in blood that was streaming down his face from a head wound.

Before he could speak, Heero appeared behind the boy and hit him in the back of his head with the butt of his gun. The boy fell to the ground unconscious. Wufei rushed over when Heero pulled out a piece of rope and started to tie the boy wrists together. "Do you think that's necessary; he can barely stand, let alone retaliate. Yuy?"

"I won't take chances, especially if I'm going to be carrying him in my gundam. Now get back to your gundam, were leaving."

Short, precise and to the point. Wufei glared as he jogged back to his gundam. With that attitude, he refused to help, letting the other pilot carry the prisoner alone. He probably wouldn't want the help anyway.

Safely inside his cockpit he hailed Quatre and Trowa, "We've secured the target, let's go."

Darien woke up to find himself tied to a chair. He struggled a moment, before he took in his surrounding. He realized his situation when his gaze fell on four boys around his age sitting around him, studying him silently. /I must be in their safehouse./

He belatedly realized that they had stripped him of his uniform jacket and his button up dress shirt. Left in his standard white undershirt and black trousers he felt exposed. He tried to keep his anger in check as he held their gaze one by one.

He remained silent. /Let them talk. Remain calm./

A boy of with Japanese features came forth and held a gun to his head. Darien met the boy's blue gaze head on.

"We want some information. And you're going to provide it to us."

Darien raised his eyes in amusement. They didn't really believe that it was that easy, right? They thought that threatening him with a gun was going to intimidate him? He kept his mouth shut and just smirked at the boy.

Heero's confusion was apparent when he took a step back. Before he could repeat his threat though, Quatre moved in front of him.

"Listen, we know who you are Lieutenant Mayser. And we have knowledge of your influence in Oz ranks; so we are hoping to solve this peacefully without my comrade resulting to violence."

Darien clenched his fists as he struggled anew in his chair. The bonds dug into his wrists as he scowled at them. "I have no idea what you people are talking about."

Wufei from where he sat on the couch snorted. "Aren't you General Kushranda's lover?"

Darien glared at Wufei, when the Chinese warrior refused to back down; Darien turned his gaze on Quatre. "I suggest you untie me. I didn't risk my life for this."

Quatre felt the anger and pain flowing from their captive. It was strong and loud. He flinched away, startled by it's intensity.

They all watched as the brunette started laughing. It was a loud and harsh sound, lacking mirth or quality. Once he was calm enough to speak he sneered at them.

"They expect me to work with you people? Obviously, the information gathering you were supposed to be doing months ago was inaccurate. A simple deduction method to test your level of infiltration and information gathering, which you all failed miserably; the professors gave you all the necessary clues without compromising me."

They are stared at him in confusion. Wufei was stunned at the emotions that the boy produced. "What are you talking about?"

Darien looked at them in turn with a frown forming on his face. His blank expression bled true, and none of the gundam pilots could read anything again.

In a calm and steady voice he addressed them. "Pilot 01: Heero Yuy, Gundam Wing; Pilot 03: Trowa Barton, Gundam HeavyArms; Pilot 04: Quatre Rebaba Winner, Gundam Sandrock; and Pilot 05: Chang Wufei, Gundam Shenlong."

He silently watched with amusement as the gundam pilots all stiffened at his declarations. "Did I miss anyone?"

Pain exploded behind his eyes as he tried to double over in his bonded state.

It was fast and it hurt like a son of bitch. - Darien never saw it coming, as Heero punched him in the face before he moved to hitting his vulnerable stomach. Trying to catch his breath, Darien heard commotions as they tried to subdue their angry comrade.

"How did you get those informations?" Darien through pain filled eyes caught the suspicion in Wufei's glare. Despite the anger, Darien could see the horror battling with the intrigue in the Chinese pilot's black gaze.

"Free me and I'll tell you."

"Do you think us that naïve?"

"…"

"Tell us."

"You wouldn't believe me."

"Then what is the use of freeing you from your bonds."

"Have you contacted your handlers of a mission completed?"

He was met with silence. /Unbelieveable/

Darien growled in frustration. He glanced around and saw an open laptop on the table in the far corner of the room. Glancing back at Wufei he gestured to the laptop.

"Bring that laptop here."

Wufei wanted to refuse the order, but something in the Oz officer's eyes made him pause. A silent plea. He hesitated for a second before he nodded and brought over the computer. He glanced at Heero and the others to see them watching quietly. Heero was silently seething but kept from interfering.

Wufei placed the laptop in front of Darien on the coffee table and turned to the prisoner. Raising an ebony brow, he waited. "Well?"

Darien nodded, "Since you are reluctant to free me, call your professors."

Wufei halted; he narrowed his gaze at their prisoner. But before he could object Darien spoke up. "If you want to know the truth, do it."

While Wufei kept eye contact with Darien, Heero had moved forward and quickly transferred the link to Professor J.

Not long a wait and the professor's wrinkled face appeared on the screen. Upon seeing Darien's face he nodded, "Ah..so. Professor O?" All the gundam pilots crowded around the computer to see as J moved away and was replaced by Professor O; the old man smiled when he saw Darien.

"I see that the others succeeded in their mission."

Darien glared at the old man. "They nearly killed me. They don't know who I am." His voice was flat and hard.

The Professor nodded sadly, "Ah yes…there was clearly a misunderstanding."

Heero slammed his gun on the table next to the laptop. "Why don't you explain then."

Professor J appeared next to the other doctor and sighed loudly. "Darien Mayser is pilot 02. Gundam Deathscythe's pilot."

Wufei stumbled as he dragged himself toward the computer screen. His eyes widen as he stared from the screen to the prisoner's face. "What!"

Clearly Quatre was not taking it any better himself. He was shaking as he watched Darien quietly. The bond boy was staring at the screen with a closed expression upon his pale and bruised face.

"Darien Mayser is an alias that pilot 02 used, whom we placed in Oz organization years ago. He has been our spy for the last three years boys."

All the gundam pilots turned their attention to their immobile guest with disbelief. Darien smirked at them, "My name is Duo Maxwell….Now, is it safe to ask to be freed from this chair?"

TBC

Sorry about the late post. Review please. Thanks!