Lies - Between Friends and Lovers
by Dyna Dee
"Agent Chang?" A slim brunet shuttle stewardess, dressed in a fitted white jumpsuit, an insignia of a blue shuttle over her left breast, had quietly uttered Wufei's name in an attempt to wake him from his brief nap and not draw the attention of the other resting passengers. Dark eyes snapped open immediately and focused on the pretty young woman.
"There's a tight-band message for you. The captain asked me to bring you his headphones in order for you to receive the call."
This was highly unusual, he thought, raising the back of his seat in order to sit up straight while accepting the headset the woman offered. She gave him a brief smile and moved away in order to give him some privacy.
"What it is?" Trowa asked quietly, having woken up from the slight disturbance.
Holding up his hand, Wufei signaled that he was listening for that information.
"This is Agent Chang," Wufei announced quietly, acutely aware of the slumbering passengers around him.
"Agent Donnihan, stationed on L4. I called you about the latest attacks?"
"Of course." Wufei acknowledged, now recalling the other man's voice. "What's going on?"
"I was informed by command that you were on your way to take over the marauder investigation, Agent Chang, and I received additional information that I thought you might want to hear."
"This couldn't wait until I arrived?" he asked, looking at his traveling companion.
"I'll leave that answer up to you," the faceless man answered, sounding both confident and competent. "Our L4 unit has been investigating the rash of marauder attacks on this colony's freighters, and we've traced a transmission to a nearby abandoned resource satellite. I can give you the coordinates and you can meet us there, or my team could wait for you here on L4 and we can investigate the facility with you in command."
Wufei was pleased with the man's professionalism. The marauders presented the opportunity for any colony based officer to move up in rank. Having stepped forward in the investigation, bringing his name and talents to the attention of the higher ups basically assured the man of a promotion if the marauders were captured and brought to trial due to his detective work. Donnihan had just proved himself ambitious by contacting the officer in charge and giving Wufei the information and offering him the chance to take over or delegate.
Checking his watch, Wufei calculated the time difference before answering. "This is the second suspected stash that has been located." He thought for a moment about his next move, then after deciding he said, "We should be locking on L4 in two and a half hours. Prepare an armed shuttle and assault team and be ready to leave the moment I arrive."
"Yes, sir," the man snapped back, obviously a former military man used to receiving orders.
"Thank you for contacting me. I look forward to working with you."
"Thank you, sir. We'll be ready to set out as soon as you arrive."
Hearing the line go dead, Wufei took off the head phones and held them out, signaling to the stewardess that he had finished. She came immediately and retrieved the headset, accepting his thanks before turning back towards the cockpit to return the headgear to the shuttle's captain.
Wufei waited until she had gone to inform Trowa of the conversation. "An abandoned resource satellite makes sense," Trowa said thoughtfully. "These ships have virtually come and gone without leaving a trace. They're certainly not docking on any colony, where their comings and goings would be logged into the system. A newly built and an abandoned resource satellite would both be perfect for clandestine activities."
"It's hard to imagine a valuable commodity such as a resource satellite could be abandoned so completely that it could be used for pirating. Perhaps there is collusion between the marauders and a legitimate business man looking to make some profit that can't be tracked by the government for taxes."
"That's a thought," Trowa said with a tilt of his head. "But I doubt it. L4 has many resource satellites, of which Quatre's family owns the majority of that number. Even with their wealth the Winners don't have the manpower to guard each and every defunct resource satellite on a daily basis. I know there are security systems installed on each of the Winner satellites, but I don't know about the security measures of other businessmen."
"How many abandoned resource satellites can there be?"
Trowa shrugged. "I'm not sure. I'd venture to guess that there are antiquated ones floating just beyond each colony, waiting to be demolished, refurbished or sold. The economies of the all the colonies have suffered to some degree during the war and are just now beginning to recover. For the past several years colonial governments and large businesses have been wary of the UEC and have been conducting their affairs cautiously. They've retained the old resource satellites in case there came a need to reactivate them, especially after observing the harsh restrictions imposed by the UEC government on L2."
"What happened to L2 has nothing to do with the other colonies," Wufei interrupted with a scowl.
"You think not?" A reddish brown eyebrow rose questioningly. "It may be that you have been dirt side too long, Wufei."
"L2's government was considered to be nothing more than a disruptive group of unorganized thugs bent on anarchy. The sanctions were imposed by the UEC with the hope that L2's citizens would rise up in anger and overthrow the criminals who had taken over the colony and brought nothing but grief and suffering to them."
"How do we know that hasn't happened?"
Wufei turned in his seat to look at the questioning man. "Do you have knowledge of something I'm unaware of?"
Trowa shrugged. "I'm just saying that with all communication being cut off between L2 and everyone else, how do we know whether or not the former leadership of that colony hasn't been replaced? Do we really know if there is anyone still alive in there?"
"Of course we do." Wufei snorted, settling back into his seat. "Humanitarian supplies are sent on a regular basis."
There was an intensity in Trowa's eyes as he replied that showed his ire, though his voice remained calm and modulated. "So because L2 didn't do what the UEC wanted, they basically turned it into a prison colony, sentencing the guilty along with the innocent and isolating them all from everyone so that L2's citizens can't contaminate the other colonies or Earth. And by supplying the air, water and the food that sustain those people unfortunate enough to be trapped on L2, the UEC maintains control over every aspect of their lives until that colony complies with its standards of practice. Could you thrive under such conditions, Wufei? You know what it was like living under the threat of the Alliance. All colony-born do. Duo grew up in similar conditions, with hunger, illness and crime a constant threat to his life. The Alliance's hateful grip caused him unbelievable loss and grief, making him an angry and vengeful teenager. He found a focus for those vindictive emotions when he was given the opportunity to pilot a gundam. He was hell bent on revenge, wasn't he? I'm afraid that the UEC will find that all it has accomplished with this embargo on L2 is that it has made many new enemies, just as determined and resilient as Duo."
Once Trowa finished, Wufei spent several moments contemplating what he'd said. As a former colonist, he agreed with some of the points the other man had raised. He still carried the memory of feeling helpless, angry and frustrated when his colony lived under the constant threats of the Alliance, the safety of his people guaranteed only by their cooperation by Earth's iron-fist government. In the end, his fears for the people of his colony had proven true, though their destruction did not come by the hand of Earth's government but from the proud and stubborn people themselves, who collectively gave up their lives in order to not become a pawn in the war. Swallowing down the wave of guilt and sorrow he always felt when thinking of his former home, Wufei concentrated on remaining calm and focused on the task ahead of him. Trowa appeared to have finished speaking on the topic of L2 and had settled into his seat once again. Wufei followed his lead, leaning his seat back and hoping to grab a bit more sleep, sensing he was going to need it once the shuttle docked on L4.