The Blood of Peace
Second Movement, the Second Part: Improv all the way
"Man, I still can't believe how large this army is."
Duo's quietly spoken sentence carried no further than Heero's ears. It seemed that Duo actually knew how to use discretion when the situation called for it. And he was right. When the two of them had signed up eight days ago, they had no idea that Oz would have amassed such a large army in such a short period of time. Their arrival at the training grounds the day before had only confirmed their unease. The army was huge, with soldiers stretching from horizon to horizon on this unending field. Earthian would have a hard time matching it. It was clear that it was more important than ever to succeed in this mission so that they could find a way to counter this massive force. Heero only hoped that the others were successful getting into position.
"Hey, Heero, what do you think of the sergeant in charge of our unit? I think he's an idiot. I mean, did you see how he was handling his sword? I almost laughed myself stupid after watching him bumble around."
That was another important thing to notice. As large as the army was, it seemed that the vast majority of them were completely untrained. Earthian may have a smaller army, but they were well trained and disciplined. These groups of men and boys in Oz were green, seemingly picked out right off their farms to join the war effort. That, at least, was a comfort. However, it had not been easy for Duo or Heero to conceal their expertise with weapons. They could not stand out, so much to Duo's dismay, they had to pretend to be as inept with their weapons as these other fools were. Heero did not use Wing, for the weapon was too fine for a soldier. And most certainly, Duo did not use Deathscythe. It seemed that Duo did not even bring Deathscythe. It had not been in their pack. So he and Duo were using inferior weapons, pretending to be untrained, and to top it off, they had to put on an act that they were just friends from the same village. Since they had gotten to Oz, neither had even had the chance or opportunity to hold hands. It was frustrating, especially since they bedded down next to each other every night. The things they did for a mission…
As Duo and Heero sat in the training camp, the soldiers walked around, checking on their weapons and trying to look tough in general. It seemed that the old adage was true: give a boy a sword, and he thought he was a man. Despite the bravado, not many tried to befriend Heero since he was silent and extremely talented at scaring the living crap out of people with his glare. Duo, on the other hand, had many acquaintances. Occasionally, someone would wave at him and he would wave back. No one approached to talk to them, however, because as friendly as Duo was, he had made it clear that he and Heero did not really want to be bothered. Therefore, there were some rumors that they were lovers, but no one dared to say it to them. And they knew about the rumors anyway. And they did not care.
"Heero, I think it's time for us to go into 'training' again. You wanna see how long I can hold back from laughing this time?"
Duo's cheerful tone made Heero smile. The very first day of training, Duo had burst out into uncontrollable laughter when their training sergeant had performed a series of very inelegant, amateurish maneuvers with his sword. Duo had gotten himself out of a certain flogging and suspicion by claiming that he had an involuntary condition which made him laugh at the oddest times. Duo's story, so implausible and unbelievable to Heero, was swallowed whole by the sergeant since his pompous arrogance did not permit him to believe that anyone under his command would dare to actually laugh at him. So Duo had free reign to laugh anytime he found the sergeant stupid, and he was largely ignored. And Heero was sure that this time, his condition would manifest itself more quickly than the last time since the sergeant was going to show them how to parry an enemy's attack today. The fool could not pretend competence when he was fighting air, so watching him parry another's attack would be hilarious.
"Okay, Duo, I say you last about three minutes before you laugh up a lung. No rolling on the ground this time though."
"Yeah, I get it. Makes me look insane. One thing to have a condition, another to be crazy. Gotcha, won't do anything to get my ass kicked out of this sorry army."
Considerably more cheerful and light hearted than before, the two boys headed out toward the training center. Duo was already chuckling. Maybe three minutes was a serious overestimation.
The training center was just a piece of the field with the grass cleared off to give footing. It was nothing impressive, but it suited the purpose of training just fine. Heero and Duo arrived just in time to see a series of very inept soldiers try their hand at parries and Duo broke out into laughter.
"Sorry Heero, but three minutes? Sheesh, I can't even make it to two. If we stay here any longer, I'm going to pinch my liver by laughing myself to death."
They continued walking with a cackling Duo and their sergeant picked them out for demonstrations almost immediately. That made Duo stop laughing. They had to pretend to be inept again.
"All right you two, get into the ring and attack me. I'll show you how to parry."
Rolling his eyes, Duo unsheathed his sword and walked into the ring. Heero was already on the other side, flanking the idiot sergeant. The sergeant bellowed, "Come at me, you pansies!"
Pansies? Excuse me? Duo snarled and almost attacked the sergeant outright. However, a warning glance from Heero stalled his need for vengeance and Duo artfully stumbled and then fell after the sergeant clumsily parried his stroke. Heero did almost the same thing and then they dusted themselves off while the sergeant went into the lecture mode, telling them and everyone what they did wrong. Duo and Heero walked out the ring, the sergeant's little lesson bouncing off their heads. Half of what he was saying was so very wrong anyway. After what seemed like forever, they were dismissed and Heero and Duo went back to their camping site. They grabbed some dinner from the communal pot and sat near each other. Everyone else was a bit of a distance off and they were able to talk more freely.
"So, Heero, so far we've discovered that as large as the army is, most people in it are very untrained. And they are not likely to be very well trained by the end of the three months. So unless Treize is hiding a better trained army as large as this one somewhere else, we shouldn't have to worry too much about it. And before I leave, I think I'll have to leave our sergeant a gift. Something priceless, I think."
Heero agreed with Duo. However, they had to find out about how Treize planned on using this army. The commander of this army, some noble named Tuborov, had yet to show up. They needed Tuborov to show so that they could assess the situation more fully. Therefore, there was something that needed to be done.
"Duo, I have to tell you something."
"Aw, Heero, are you gonna tell me that you love me again?"
The violet eyes sparked as they reflected the orange glow of the cooking fires. Duo looked so beautiful that Heero's heart contracted painfully. But this was not a time for words of love. It was time for command.
"Master of Assassins, I need you to kill the second in command of this army, Lieutenant Commander Mueller. Tonight. We must draw Tuborov to this place. Can you do it without Deathscythe?"
The sparkle faded from Duo's eyes, replaced by determination. This was Heero's first command to Duo as his capacity as an assassin. Duo felt his blood rush in anticipation of this first act of death for Heero.
"Consider it done. Mueller will be dead before sunrise. And what do you mean without Deathscythe? I have it with me."
Heero looked at Duo with surprise. Where could he have possibly hidden Deathscythe?
"Tsk, tsk, Heero. I can see you wondering about the mysteries of Deathscythe again. I have it with me, don't worry. I'm never without it. Stop wondering about where I'm hiding it and relax. Tomorrow morning, this camp will be in a terrible uproar from an unexpected assassination and we have to practice the looks of absolute surprise and innocence."
With that, they finished their meal quietly, neither talking. Duo was planning the assassination down to the last minute detail and Heero was still wondering about Deathscythe. One of these days, Duo would tell him all about it, but until that day, he saw no harm in taking some logical guesses about it.
As the moon rose, they laid down on their bed rolls just like everyone else. Except for the occasional sentry, the camp was quiet. Heero closed his eyes as if in sleep. When he opened his eyes again, Duo was gone and the moon had risen a little higher in the sky.
'Come back soon, Duo. I'm waiting for you.'
With that thought, Heero went to sleep.