Lies - Between Friends and Lovers
Prologue - Relena Peacecraft
by Dyna Dee
Slipping out of the confines of her home wasn't as difficult as it should have been. The tricky part was avoiding the security cameras and guards who walked the outside perimeter of the estate. Dressed in dark clothing from head to toe and wearing deck shoes, (the only pair of footwear she owned that didn't have heels) she followed the familiar dark garden path, jumping slightly with a start at the slightest sound, fearing discovery. She had fifteen minutes until the security trip lines were activated in the garden area, so there was no time to waste.
Finally reaching her first destination, the far right corner of the garden and the vine-covered cement wall that surrounded the estate, she fumbled several moments within the dark shadows to find a good foot and handhold. Once she did, she began the cautious climb up the twelve-foot barrier. Though Heero had often complained about the hardy ivy being a security problem, she'd protested cutting it down completely, arguing that the vines had been there for as long as anyone could remember and that the garden looked more lush and beautiful with the large green leaves covering the otherwise unimpressive cement wall. Heero had grudgingly agreed to her request, allowing a limited number of the original vines climbing the twelve foot tall structure that surrounded the Peacecraft mansion to remain intact. The vines on the outside of the wall, however, had been completely eradicated.
Keeping her body as low as she possibly could, she used her forearms to ease her chest and then one leg over the foot wide ledge at the top of the wall where she paused, torso flat with the ledge, but only for a moment. Having readied her self for the next step, she carefully eased the lower half of her body over the outside edge and lowered herself as far down as she could manage until she was hanging on by her manicured fingertips. Having no other hand or foot holds on that side the wall, she mentally crossed her fingers and let go, dropping the remaining distance to the green grass below. She landed with a grunt and a quiet thud, her feet sharply stinging despite having been cushioned by the manicured lawn.
Once her feet stopped stinging, she turned to scan the surrounding area to make sure she wasn't spotted before dashing down the grass-covered mound to the roadway below. She kept to the shadows until she reached the corner of the block, then stepped out onto the sidewalk properly, as nonchalantly as she could manage. With a quick glance behind her to make she the alarms hadn't been sounded, the world around her seemed as it should be, at peace. With a nod of satisfaction, she turned her attention forward to the road she was following. It would, at least temporarily, lead her away from all the obligations and worries she carried throughout the day'.
Walking down the street, lit dimly by the old-fashioned styled streetlights, she breathed in deeply, enjoying the smell of freedom, if only for a few short hours. Slipping a hand into the pocket of her slacks, she reassured herself that the credits she'd pocketed for her late-night snack hadn't slipped out during her climb up the leafy vine ladder. She smiled, touching the folded bills, wondering what type of high-content sugar or salty treat lay in store for her at the all-night convenience store located less than a mile down the lane. Something with nuts and caramel and covered in chocolate perhaps. Yes, she was really quite pleased with herself for the ease of her escape and she intended to enjoy every moment of the evening.
Her smile lingered as she calmly strolled along the avenue, feeling completely safe despite the late hour and the impenetrable darkness beyond the streetlights. Sanq had one of the lowest crime rates in all of Europe, and besides, there were other people walking about, though not in large numbers: lovers strolling arm in arm and young people coming or going to the movie theater or out for a treat, just as she was.
The storefronts she passed were relatively dark, with only a few having a light shining in the display windows or a back room. She fought the urge to pause and peer into the many windows to study the wares on display, knowing she really shouldn't. Having been thoroughly tutored by Heero, she knew she should remain alert to her surroundings, not gazing at pretty trinkets, shoes or clothing. The last thing she wanted to happen on her little late-night escapade was to run into friend or foe, for either one could land her into more trouble than she wanted. Being seen in public at that time of night, alone and without security or a chaperone, would be fruitful fodder for the press. As it was, she would most likely receive a severe scolding from Milliardo in the morning for sneaking out again, after the guards at the front gate informed him, of course. It was something that couldn't be avoided because of the simple fact that it was easier to breakout of the security placed around her home than it was to break in, thanks to Heero and the team he'd retained for her safety. Still, another lecture was a small price to pay for the hour or two of freedom and anonymity.
At one time she would have thought the security measures outlandish, but after being drugged and kidnaped while visiting the colonies a year after the end of the first war, she no longer raised her voice in protest as she might have once done.
Strolling across several street crossings and passing several cafes, restaurants and more stores, thoroughly enjoying her outing, her attention soon became fixed upon the bright lights of the convenience store located no more than half a block ahead. She glanced around to see that she was very much alone on the street, though there were two customers just entering the building she was headed for.
And then something changed. A warning prickle crept up her spine, making the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. She nervously cast her eyes about, looking for the cause of her sudden apprehension. She jumped and stumbled back a few feet when a low, dark shadow streaked across the roadway a few feet in front of her. With a relieved chuckled she let herself relax. It had only been it a cat. With one final glance about her, and seeing no one else in close proximity, she picked up the pace, still feeling rather foolish for having jumped at shadows. I'm perfectly safe, she firmly told herself, though she made sure to keep to the middle of the sidewalk, avoiding the alleyways and whatever trouble might lurk in those ink-black depths.
As fixed as she was on her destination, not more than fifty feet away now, she wasn't aware of anything untoward until a strange smelling cloth appeared out of nowhere and was forcefully pressed against her nose and mouth. At the same instant, a strong arm forcefully pulled her body back, pinning her entire backside against a solid chest. She cried out in alarm, but her voice was sufficiently muffled behind the cloth. She struggled with all her might to break free, but her efforts seemed in vain. She was being held almost completely immobile with her arms pinned to her side by the unyielding arm wrapped around chest. She began to panic, realizing her ability to fight back had been effectively thwarted by her assailant by his hold on her.
Heero's stern voice filtered into her mind through the rising panic, telling her to remain calm and think. He had trained her in many tactics for self defense. With that flash of memory she recalled that her legs and feet were still free and could be used as weapons. Then, just as Heero had instructed, she lifted her right leg up and forcefully brought her foot down in an attempt to injure the top of her attacker's foot, breaking the delicate bones so that whomever held her would let go. Her foot, unfortunately, met only pavement, and painfully so, but the pain was quickly dismissed as panic set in once agin. Her heart was racing with fear as she continued to struggle to free herself. Catching a breath became difficult with her mouth hampered by the cloth, and the pungent odor coming from it was now so overwhelming. Fear, greater than anything she'd experienced in a long, long time, closed in on her waning consciousness. No! She mentally wailed. Not again! Unable to utter more than a grunt, she succumbed to the noxious ordor and slumped against her kidnapper. Her last thought was of Milliardo and Heero, thinking both men were going to be very, very angry with her.