LSE / 9-20-06
(Firestorm - Chapter Four)
rated: R - language, content, violence, sex

Chapter Four


I'm alive.

The thought hits me at the same time as the pain. I moan, rolling my head to the side. I wrestle an eye open but can't see anything. For a single bewildering second I'm back in my cell, but then I realize my wrists and ankles are bound with rope. I'm lying in the back of a truck, bouncing down a dirt road from the sound of it. What time is it? I try to lift my head, but the dizziness stops me. It's pitch black, anyway.

The truck screeches to a halt and I go rolling, slamming up against the side. It's a military transport truck, and I'm the only thing getting transported. Somehow, I don't find that reassuring. The knots are stiff, the rope biting into my wrists. Struggling loosens them, but before I work them free the back of the truck opens. Sunlight pours in. I close my eyes and go limp, faking unconsciousness. Someone climbs into the truck, leather boots creaking. Rough hands grab me and sling me over one shoulder.

I feel the steady sway of my carrier's stride and risk opening my eyes. The ground spins dizzily and for one woozy second I think I might puke all over this guy's ass, which is directly in front of my face. I swallow back bile and lift my head. We're heading away from the truck, which is parked crookedly in front of a tree. To the distant right I can spot the shoreline. I stare at my braid, which is nearly dangling in the dirt. The tie's come loose from the end and it's unraveling slowly. My poor hair, all tangled and snarled.

The ground changes into metal, and then tilts gradually upward. I struggle with the rope on my wrist a little longer, working the knots to no avail. I look up when the ground changes yet again, but my captor slings me down like a sack. It's that son of a bitch Tarsen. He's looking at down at me in disgust, dark eyes under both eyes and even more stubble on his chin. How long have I been out? Why didn't he kill me?

Without a word to me, he turns and keys in a few commands. The door slides shut, and I realize with dawning horror we're inside a space shuttle. Oh, fuck. Not space! Oh shit oh shit oh shit. Where is he taking me? I open my mouth to talk, but only a dry rasp emerges. I cough painfully, curling up on myself until the pain subsides. Shit, did the bastard break my vocal cords? I try again, and manage a sort of "Ugh" sound.

"Good lord, who the hell is that?" says a woman's voice. Her footsteps enter the room, and I crane to get her into my field of vision. She's dressed in a simple flight suit that does little to conceal her curves, and her long blonde hair is pulled back in a modest ponytail. "He looks like a little kid!"

Tarsen smiles at her, slipping a hand around her waist. She pulls back just enough to be coy. "You'll never guess, my dear. Are we ready to leave?"

She tilts her head to one side, returning the smile. "Almost. Jasper and Milou are already here and the cargo's loaded. Did you get the money from the General?"

"No, he's dead," Tarsen answers shortly, dropping his hand from her waist.

She gapes at him, pretty face twisting up into sudden anger. "Jeden, you fool! What are we going to tell Rurik?"

He glowers at her, "Shut up, all right? I'll think of something. Call Jasper and Milou up here, I want him," the Lieutenant points at me. The woman looks my way and I grin back at her. "Put somewhere safe. And don't underestimate him, Stacia."

She shakes her head, "You'll be the death of me yet, Jeden."

"Ugh. Ack. Hn!" I cough raggedly. Tarsen gives me only a look of utter disgust, but the woman looks a bit concerned. Even beat to hell, I'm a stud! Maybe if I could get her alone from the Lieutenant I could do my best hurt-puppy impression. Or I could just think of Heero and start bawling, I'm sure that would stir her heart. They both leave, however, despite my continued pathetic coughing. Heartless bitch.

When the other two shipmates arrive, one of them is a woman, too. Unlike the other woman, Stacia, this one has a plain face and even plainer mousy hair. When she and the other man, a suitably thick-necked goon, carry me away from the door, I can't tell if she's strong or I'm just that lightweight. I've always been a wraith, but I bet captivity is doing wonders for my weight. I call it the prisoner diet, visible ribs in two weeks or your money back!

The two unceremoniously carry me through the ship's passageways down to nearly the cargo hold. I get dumped into some little room, face against the metal floor.

"Wait, cut him first," the man orders suddenly, kneeling over me.

Cut me? Oh, hell no. I like being not-cut, thank you. I hear the flick of a knife opening, but it's just outside my range of vision. Is he going to carve his initials in my back or something twisted like that? The ropes binding my ankles fall away with a single slice. He swiftly severs the ropes at my wrists, but my arms are so numb I can barely move them.

"Why'd you do that, Jasper?" the woman asks, waiting impatiently in the doorway. She moves aside as he leaves, just sighing at the lack of answer. For a moment, she looks me in the eye, and I glare back, too upset to try the puppy-eyes. The door slides close between us.

My new cell isn't an improvement on the old one; in fact, there is no window. Two factor stand out as absolute bliss, though, and that's the fact I'm not chained up, and there's a bed. Actually, there's a cold metal slab bolted into the floor, but I'm pretending it's a bed to look on the bright side of things. Being an optimist is important, especially in a crisis. The door is tightly sealed, but a few vents near the top of my little prison allow for plenty of fresh air. A single panel in the ceiling provides a soft lighting. It's frigid, too. The room is so crisp and cold that all I can smell is myself, and I absolutely reek. I would kill for a shower. Especially if it was Tarsen, I could put a bullet through his brain and not lose a wink of sleep over it.

I'm starting to panic. How is Heero going to find me if I'm not even on the same planet anymore? Would he think to search in space? How did Tarsen manage to escape out of the base? I strain, hard, trying to focus on the hazy memories between getting strangled and waking up in the truck. There aren't many, just the overwhelming smell of rotten eggs. If almonds smell like cancer, what about rotten eggs? It can't be food.

I just have to remain optimistic. Heero will realize I'm not at the base anymore. He'll trace the truck's path to the shuttleport, and then find out where the shuttle goes. Unless they're planning on killing me and tossing my body out into space. Oh, I'd rather they kill me first. Vacuum is like the worst way to die ever.

I'm shaking. From the cold? The fine, sharp edge of panic wedges nicely between my ribs, and no, it's not from the cold that I'm shaking. We're about to launch, I can feel it in my bones. Sure enough, the shuttle roars to life and gravity shoves me to the floor like the schoolyard bully it is. It seems to last forever, and then I'm floating up above the floor. Oh, fuck. I miss you, gravity, like a battered housewife. Come push me around some more!

I kick the door, only to sail back into the other way. Son of a bitch!

"Heeeyyy! Turn on the fucking gravity!" I shout, clinging to the slats in the vent. I press my mouth against it and yell again. "Please tell me you fuckers are so poor you can't afford freaking gravity. It's like cheaper than air. You can afford air, right? 'Cause otherwise this is going to be a really sucky trip really fast."

I kick at the wall, spinning lazily across the little room. Nice to be in space again, at least. Just try to stay positive, no need to panic. "No need to get upset, Duo." That's right, talking to yourself will make things seem better. I sigh, flexing out one arm. I've pretty much got the feeling back in my fingertips, which is good I guess. "So what if you're floating in a steel cage of death right now? At least you have motor function." That's right. Stay positive.

I whack my shoulder on the bed before the much larger pain of my head on the floor. Gravity, you fucking bitch.



Author's Notes: Finally, an update! Sorry this took so long. Duo at last, right? Ha, he is the main character afterall. Let's see, I don't really have all that much to say, so I'll just post this update and then get back to working. I want to try and get a lot written today, so hopefully the next update will be soon! You can check out my progress via my LJ (I'll stop plugging it eventually, guys!)

Oh, and thanks for all the reviews. You guys are so sweet to me!

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