Echos | part 2
For a very scenic and rustic town, the place that Heero had chosen for a top secret meeting that wasn’t going to be a secret for long had a couple of flaws. First, despite all of the nice elaborate woodwork, the only bench Duo Maxwell could find to sit on was metal. Metal that as a result of the abnormally cold weather was freezing to sit on for more than two minutes. Duo had wiped the snow off of it, sat down at about 10:30 and had been frozen to the spot for more than an hour and a half now. The snow had stopped but the temperature was still dropping steadily, and the tiny figure completely enclosed in a navy blue jacket next to Duo was shivering animatedly.
Only the onyx eyes and little nose of a girl named Cassandra were visible under the jacket. It had been too big for Duo and it was much too big for her. She blinked at the older boy and hesitantly asked a question. “How much longer will it be?”
“Well,” Duo, who was never one for showing much weakness, leaned back and the bench and faked a very good imitation of being relaxed. “He’s never been late before, I’d say a couple more minutes.”
“Then can we go inside?”
“Umm,” Duo took a turn blinking at his counterpart. “If he says it’s okay.”
“Mr. Duo, do you always take orders from this ‘Heero’ guy?” came the sassy question.
“No, not at all,” Duo laughed out loud and took a minute to construct a witty response. “Gorgeous, I don’t take orders from anyone, least of all him. He just knows what’s going on right now and I don’t.”
As if on cue, the wind blew an odd noise from down the street, a sound Duo would have never expected to hear in such a quaint little town as the one he was in at the moment. It was the sound of an engine, eventually recognized as a motorcycle, and it was barreling down the street at an inane speed. The vehicle came into sight and sure enough Heero Yuy was riding it, trying apparently to be as quiet and inconspicuous as one could be on a motorbike. Cassandra saw that he had disheveled brown hair, very dark blue eyes and extraordinarily stern features. He was wearing jeans and a forest green tank top, no jacket even in the cold weather. In fact Heero himself seemed cold, not because it was below freezing out but because his body was rigid with depression. His face was set in a look that was blank of emotion but not blank of thought; the little girl could tell that the boy was constantly watching, sensing, and aware of every minute detail of the world around him. Cassandra guessed that he was a very unhappy boy. Duo nodded slowly, thinking to himself that some things just never changed. “Looking cheerful this evening, aren’t you Heero?”
His head snapped to the sound of Duo’s voice but just took a moment to peer at the situation. “Who’s that?” he indicated the navy blue jacket by tilting his head slightly.
Duo grinned. “A friend I made. I thought that maybe she could help us on our mission.”
Duo waited for a second for the inevitable to come. And he wasn’t disappointed; Heero very slowly brought his hand to his jeans pocket and pulled out the handle of a gun. He never stopped carrying one, even in times of peace and armistice where anyone who possessed a weapon without a specific government license was jailed. Duo raised a single hand. The two exchanged a look and Heero folded his arms. “You can have one sentence to explain.”
“Very generous of you, Heero. She’s a telekinetic, which is rather odd. You usually have all sorts of odd components to your missions. She relates, at least I think so. Cassie, stand up so Heero here can see that you aren’t carrying anything that could feed his paranoia.”
Cassie hopped up in cheerful obedience. Heero gazed at a thin, pale little girl with onyx eyes and ink black hair pulled back into to two small ponytails. She still wore the white angel’s dress under the jacket, and she stared back at him with such curiosity that Heero had to do something he was sure showed weakness: blink. “Telekinetic? How’d you know that that had anything to do with our mission?”
“Call it a Shinigami hunch,” Duo shrugged.
Heero arched a dark brown eyebrow. “Hunch? Most accurate hunch I’ve heard in a while. Yes, she is actually probably going to be very useful to our mission.”
“Which I’m sure you’re going to start explaining right this instant.”
Heero got off the bike, turned the key and shut it off, leaving it parked in front of the hotel. He walked silently over to the bench and peered critically at the people on it. Duo nodded again, this was the Heero that he had remembered, and he hadn’t changed a day. All of the pilots had wondered what peace and a quiet, lonely and lazy existence would do to each other. Duo was fairly sure that he had adapted the quickest and easiest. Poor Heero just wasn’t used to a world where everybody wasn’t out to kill him, although by the look on his face at the moment someone still wanted gundam pilot blood. Duo registered this and tucked it into the back of his mind. Heero turned his cold gaze to the hotel. “Give me one second.”
Duo followed the look. “What’s going on?”
Duo glanced at the light on the second floor; he must have left the light on at the room. “At the risk of missing some climatic moment I’m going to ask you exactly what’s going on in one sentence. Be straight forward, Heero.”
Heero flashed his eyes at him briefly and then turned back to the hotel. “One sentence? Fine then. Wufei, Quatre, and Trowa have been kidnapped in that order. You’re the next target.”
Duo experienced a feeling that was very rare for him indeed: his mind went completely blank for a second. He coughed out a single word. “What?”
“You heard me,” Heero snapped mildly at him. “Now watch and you’ll see.”
Duo was about to compose an intelligent comment when a noise from the building caught everyone’s attention. It was an explosion of some sort and it resonated throughout the street. Slowly all of the dark rooms on the second floor began to glow red, Duo’s room included, until it was easy to know what was happening. Billowing black smoke began to seep out of open windows and soon red and orange flames to accompany it. The hotel came to life and all of its occupants flipped on their lights and started pouring out of the building in panic. Heero sat down on the bench next to Cassandra.
“Be quiet and pretend we’re just a few guests,” Heero instructed as dozens of people started pilling out into the area they had had to themselves a minute ago.
“Oh come on, do you honestly think that I wouldn’t know to do that?” Duo sat up from his relaxed position and casually let the smile drift off his face.
Guests poured out left and right for the next fifteen minutes, but as the fire slowly engulfed the hotel it seemed as if no one was trapped or left inside. Only after the manager had taken account of everyone and announced that there were no causalities or injuries at all did the old hotel explode with fire and come crashing down in on itself. It did this in a way so that it wouldn’t have been dangerous to anyone. Heero nodded solemnly at the smoldering ruins and walked to the motorcycle. Duo lightly snatched Cassandra’s wrist and followed him. He walked the bike across the street and stopped, facing his braided friend. “What did you have in the room?”
Duo was still trying to comprehend the situation. “In the room? Uh, my suitcase, cell phone, a big bowl of candy. Oh, and my laptop.”
“The one I gave you?”
“What do you mean?” Duo blinked, searching his memory. He quickly came upon a distant file that had been locked away for sometime now. "Oh yeah,” Duo remembered that when he had last seen him his fellow pilot had given him a laptop. “Yes, it was the one you gave me.”
“Good,” Heero leaned back on the bike. “I set so that the destruction of any one of the laptops I gave to one of the pilots would alert mine. That’s how I found out about the others. Wufei, Quatre and even Trowa, I got an alert that they’re laptops had been destroyed. I tried calling them but they’d gone missing. I ran every trace I can think of but with the armistice most of the government lines have been closed up.”
Duo nodded, he knew exactly what his friend had been talking about. Since the war had ended all of the top secret codes and files and messaging systems that the pilots had depended on were destroyed. The government was taking measures to prevent another war left and right. They’d demolished all of the military bases, passed enormously strict laws against having any sort of weapon, and had spies all over the world and colonies making sure that no organization wanted to start another war. One of these groups was the Preventers, who Wufei worked for. The spy games that the pilots had been experts at for years were suddenly gone and so against the law that you could get jailed for years just for hacking into a database.
“I figured you’d be the next target,” Heero continued. “So I got you down here and kept very close track of you. I don’t know if you’ve noticed that you’ve been tailed since you got on the plane.”
“No, baka, by them.”
“I tried calling Noin, Sally Po, anyone who might know something about the organization we’re dealing with here or where the others are. I got three pieces of data.”
Duo folded his arms. “Shoot.”
“First, whoever they are, they’ve existed for a very long time and have never come out into the open.”
“Fair enough,” Duo commented, “but that doesn’t help us too much.”
“Second, they have only one base and it’s located within a hundred miles of where we are now.”
“That would explain why you dragged me here of all places.”
“Lastly, the organization has something to do with the ability of telekinesis. Although I’m still not convinced if such a thing really exists.”
Duo felt something tug at his pant leg and looked down to see Cassandra looking very nervous. For a moment he had forgotten that the little girl was still there. “What’s wrong Cassie?”
“Ummm,” she whimpered softly and received a fairly severe glare from Heero. “If we find them do I have to go back?”
“You know who they are?” Heero questioned, his voice rising with the faintest hint of surprise.
“Yes. You wanna know the name?”
Heero blinked again, the movement ripping through his cold face like a spasm. “Yes.”
The little girl grew extremely agitated, like she was about to tell a secret that wasn’t known to anyone. Duo knelt down to put his eyes level with hers and waited for her to get over her fear. When Cassandra finally spoke it was a very soft, detached whisper. “They’re called MIND.”
“MIND. I live there but I ran away. I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore.”
Duo prodded her only slightly further. “And they train telekinetics there, right?”
Heero’s face grew very clouded. “Duo, how do you-”
“I think I’ve heard of it before,” Duo said, his own voice becoming detached as he went sifting through the memory files again. “A really long time ago too. Their base must be close.”
“Duo,” Heero’s voice was very terse and strained, his eyes darting around the street. “Exactly how much do you know about this MIND organization?”
“I’ll tell you in a little while when I remember. Let’s just find another hotel.” Heero held up a hand but then nodded, giving into his friend’s request. Leaving the motorcycle he pointed down the street, and the three of them wandered through the people staring numbly at the smoldering hotel. Cassandra was with them, Heero shrugged when Duo suggested that she tag along on the mission for a little while. Duo understood what the shrug really meant, a few months ago his friend would have been able to track down every little fact about MIND but unfortunately times had changed quite a bit, and Heero had trouble being anything but a gundam pilot.