Alternatives-Meet The Characters

Chapter One: Meet The Characters

Duo calmly slid his ID card through the device before him. He shifted his booted feet impatiently as the machine blinked twice and greeted him in a synthetic female voice. "Good morning Lieutenant Maxwell, please proceed."

"Hello, Duo!" A gloved hand patted him on the shoulder. At once, the American fifteen-year-old recognized the voice. "Hello, Zechs," he replied to his commanding officer and best friend, Zechs Marquise.

"How are you and Hilde doing?" Zechs asked, scratching his head, his long blond hair flowing loose and long down his back. Duo breathed in sharply, heart-shaped face pasted with an expression of dismay.

"I don't know what you're talking about!" he cried, walking away from the colonel. "Sure ya do! I saw you talking to her and then... smooch!" Zechs grinned as Duo spun around.

"That's not true!" he protested. "Oh, yeah it is... and I'm gonna be a gossip! HA!" Zechs proudly walked away from his best friend, who was staring at the wall, seemingly paralyzed with fear.

Duo pivoted on his heel and shook his fist at Zechs' departing figure. "Ooh, that guy!" he muttered to himself. A slow, evil grin which justified his nickname among the Specials forces-Shinigami- spread across his face. "A little birdie told me a VERY interesting story concerning a certain lieutenant Noin and a certain colonel..."

Zechs froze in his tracks down the hall. "You wouldn't dare. I'm the gossip, not you!" he cried. Duo smirked at him. "There's a first time for everything."

Zechs jogged up to him. "Hey, how'd you find out, anyway?" he demanded.

Duo grinned. "So, you mean it's true?" Zechs groaned as he realized he just confirmed the accusation. Duo continued, "Sorry, sir, a true gossip NEVER reveals his secrets!"

Zechs pounded his head against the wall in frustration, wondering how Duo had turned the tables on him yet again.

Duo turned as he entered the lift and called, "And Zechs, you should know better than to let a security expert have free rein in your room...even if she is your sister." The lift doors clicked shut.

Zechs stared in disbelief at the now-featureless wall as Duo's words sank into his brain. Finally: "RELENAAAAAA!"

****

The MS door popped open and its young pilot leapt down, landing with cat-like agility.

"Great work, Heero!" called Trowa down to his friend, who was commonly known as Heero Yuy. Word had leaked out that the pilot of the new special 'Gundam mobile suit' would be codenamed Heero Yuy. And since he was the best pilot in the Colonial forces... "Your test scores were off the chart...even for you!" Trowa continued.

Heero gave Trowa a nod. Removing his helmet, he looked up at his best friend and teased, "You mean like yours were earlier today?"

Trowa laughed. Though he was primarily known as an explosives expert, Trowa was the best pilot in the Colonial forces...after Heero, of course.

Those two were slated to be the pilots of the Gundams, which were Mobile Suits so far advanced over the earlier models that outside HQ they were the stuff of dreams. Doctors J and H were racing with their former counterparts, Doctors O and G who were now with the Specials, to complete the Gundams.

Ten minutes later, the boys were washed and dressed casually and heading to the mess hall. Heero glanced at the boy walking next to him out of the corner of his eye. Trowa was about two inches taller than Heero's own five-foot-three, with brown hair lighter than Heero's dark crown. One of his dark green eyes was always hidden beneath a curtain of hair. That was his distinguishing feature. Heero's was a red bandanna that was supposed to keep his extremely spiky hair out of his Prussian blue eyes but didn't. (think Ryu from SF)

Trowa was Heero's best friend and a real cool guy to have around, but he never talked much about his past. Heero knew Trowa had been raised in the circus, explaining his phenomenal acrobatic ability and empathy for animals among other talents, but some dark event had led to his fleeing into the Colonial rebel forces.

Heero didn't know if Trowa was an orphan or had his parents alive, how many siblings he had, when his birthday was, where'd he'd been born... Trowa had once mentioned that he'd abandoned his real name and adopted the one of a man he'd been forced to kill, but other than that he was very reluctant to talk about his past.

Heero knew what Trowa meant. He himself hated talking about his past; not that it mattered, since almost everyone in the Rebel forces knew his story:

For most of his life, he'd been known as AJ-Adian, Jr.- and he lived up to it. He was the spitting image of his father, the assassin-turned-most-brilliant-general-in-the-Federation Adian Lowe. He was raised to be his spitting image, too. He could move as noiselessly as a shadow if he wanted, shoot a coin off a table without singeing the finish from a hundred paces, take a knife in the gut and not wince-just like his father trained him to. He had an assassin's skills but could salute and march and obey orders as well as any parade-show soldier.

He had to. If he slipped up, his father would have beaten him within an inch of his life; Heero had the scars to prove it. He hated his life; he hated the Earth Federation. It was no wonder that he'd run away and enlisted in the Colonial forces just as soon as he could: about two years ago.

His reputation as a 'perfect soldier' had quickly spread. No one questioned his loyalty, so great and seething was his hatred of his father and the other higher-ups in the Federation who'd made him what he was.

When Trowa had enlisted five months after Heero's arrival, the Colony Command quickly took notice of his skills and talents. Before long, the two were assigned each other as partners, since they both had reputations of thorough, swift efficiency. Any mission they were assigned, they completed. No questions asked.

And sure enough, the two of them had become fast friends. They'd saved each other so many times, been in so many life-and-death situations where surviving meant trusting the other totally, that a bond between the two had sprung up, binding them closer than brothers.

Heero was jolted out of his thoughts when he walked right past the door to the mess hall and Trowa called back to him: "Hey Heero! What's with you? The door's this way!" Heero spun around and grinned sheepishly. Laughing, the two boys entered the big room together.

****

Relena Marquise ran her fingers through her dark blond hair and blew the feathery bangs out of her sea-blue eyes. She squinted at the computer screen for a few more seconds, then quickly executed several quick keystrokes. With an obliging beep, the computer signaled that the code was broken.

"Ha!" Relena crowed, spinning her chair around to face her friends. "What's my time, then, Duo?"

Duo glanced at his black stopwatch. "Twenty minutes and eighteen point two seconds," he recited, grinning sheepishly at the girls.

Relena hooted in triumph. "Ha, less than twenty one minutes! So, oniisan, I thought this was an 'unbreakable' Specials code?" she taunted, smirking at her brother.

Relena Marquise was, despite her young age, one of the best security experts in the field. Or as Relena put it, 'an ANTI-security expert'. She had a knack for figuring out the weaknesses in any security system, and for breaking into any 'secure' computers to gain the blueprints for aforementioned systems.

Zechs, Duo and Hilde were all talented MS pilots, the best in the Specials forces. Zechs and Duo especially had 'the touch'; they were so good, they were expected to be the pilots for the new 'Gundam' mobile suits. Noin was a good MS pilot, too, but she used her talents to teach.

Anyway, to return to the story, Zechs had bet that his younger sister couldn't break the codes on the heavily encrypted disk containing the plans for the new Gundam suits-at least without tearing her hair out. Duo had trusted his superior's judgment so much he'd bet his girlfriend twenty credits that Relena WOULDN'T be able to break the code. Hilde had accepted the bet at once, especially since Relena was her best friend and she'd stick up like anything for her.

"Pay up, Duo! You lost," exulted Hilde. Duo grimaced and reached into his pocket, withdrawing a crumpled handful of credit notes.

Relena smirked one last time at her head-scratching brother and turned her attention to the diagrams spinning on her screen. "Whoa," she breathed. "These are the plans?" She whistled softly while her friends crowded around and looked at the screen. Duo predicted, "Those suits are going to be majorly..."

***

"AWESOME!" yelled Trowa, looking up at his new Gundam. Thickly armored and powerful looking, the orange-red-and-white Gundam had a vast arsenal of guns, missile launchers and gatling guns, a powerful engine and two hidden knives made of Gundanium alloy. "That is Heavyarms," Dr. O told Trowa, justifiably proud of his creation.

Heero was busy listening to Dr. J as he lectured the young pilot on his Gundam's statistics. "Wing Zero is extremely versatile; it fights well in the air or land. It has a jet fighter mode, can go at high speeds and is agile and maneuverable. Its main weapons are a beam saber and a beam cannon, plus some machine guns..." Heero gradually tuned Dr. J out.

His eyes kept glancing at the MS, sleek and shining white. It stood like a divine warrior from the heavens, its empty eyes almost glowing.

****

Duo grinned as Hilde and Relena praised the plans. "You know, girls, they're only plans..." said Zechs. The two girls ignored him because of their high pitched 'ooh's' and 'aah's'.

Duo gave his bud a slap on the back. "They're bee-yoo-tiful. I especially like mine." His face gleamed with delight as the plans for Deathscythe appeared.

"You're going to pilot that thing? It's kinda...scary," Hilde said, staring at the Gundam, which looked a little like the Grim Reaper.

"It's cool, Hilde! Can you not see its essence?"

Hilde looked blank. "Huh?"

Duo clarified: "It rules!"

"Uh... where's mine?" Zechs inquired as he squirmed to get a look at the Gundam. Relena glanced at her brother and grinned. "This is your Gundam, Zechs."

The screen switched to an image of a tall white Mobile Suit, with a crest on its gray and white head resembling the helmet of an ancient Roman gladiator.

"Hey, hey, hey! I was looking at MY Gundam!" protested Duo.

Zechs stared at the computer screen, trying to memorize every feature of the white Gundam. "I'm piloting...that?" he said, glancing at his teammates one by one. Relena nodded with a proud smile on her face, Hilde made a thumbs-up sign and Duo... Duo glanced at the computer screen and cried, "Hurrah! We're really gonna kick some rebel ass!"

Relena scrolled down some more...then started giggling. "What's so funny?" asked Zechs. Relena, unable to speak through her laughs, pointed to where the Gundam's name was: Tallgeese.

"TALLGEESE?!" roared Zechs, outraged. "What kind of a name is _Tallgeese_? Does it _LOOK_ like a TALLGEESE to you? It doesn't even resemble a fowl in any way, shape or size!"

Duo and Hilde joined in Relena's laughter. "I'm glad my Gundam's name's cool!" gloated Duo. Zechs sulked.

Zechs let Duo see his Gundam one last time before they had to log off in order not to be late for morning reveille.

*****

Duo and Zechs were escorted to their MS's two days after the incident. Duo stared at his Gundam and smiled proudly. The scientist beside him pushed up his glasses and calmly read the paper he was holding. "Gundam Deathscythe; unable to be seen on radar, weapon is thermal scythe. Also has a drill-like projectile that can be shot at opponents one at a time. Made out of Gundanium alloy." The scientist stopped to let Duo drool and rant on about how beautiful his Gundam was.

Zechs, on the other hand, was not so pleased with his Gundam. "Tallgeese..." he muttered under his breath. "Excuse me?" Doctor O asked the platinum-blond man beside him. "Nothing, just get on with the report," Zechs said flatly. The scientist held the clipboard in front of him, "Gundam Tallgeese, fast and powerful, it has a weapon called the Mega Cannon, and a beam saber similar to Duo's scythe."

"Pretty original, eh?" Zechs commented. The scientist cleared his throat and continued, "Made out of titanium alloy."

Although he didn't like his Gundam's name, he was still impressed by the white MS standing in front of him. In spite of his bad mood he said, "Hello, Tallgeese." And he reached up and patted the Mobile Suit.