Web of Betrayal
Part 12 - Betrayal Extended
by Dyna Dee
It was nearly eleven when Wufei's cell phone rang. He unclasped it from his belt, turned it on and brought it to his ear.
"Hello." he said into the small mouthpiece. His brows furrowed. "Hello!" he said again, this time a little more sharply. After a moment, he brought it down to glare at it, then hit a couple of the buttons. "Damn phone." he complained as he hit it again with his other hand, trying to jar some reaction out of it. "It's not that old and its been acting up for the last couple of days." he explained to the other two as he gave it a firm shake and brought it back up to his ear to listen for any improvement. With a huff of resignation he turned off the offensive device and set it on the table.
Duo looked at it, picked it up, then looked to Wufei with a question in his eyes.
"It's broken." the Chinese man answered. "I couldn't hear anyone on it, and that's happened about ten times in the last four days."
Duo looked back at Heero, phone still in hand. "He wants to know if you'll let him try to fix it." Heero was now Duo's translator, a task Wufei was readily willing to concede to him. The long haired man looked back at Wufei expectantly.
Wufei looked at the useless piece of hardware and shrugged. "Go ahead." he said, and Duo's face had such a look of glee on it that it caused the other two to smile at it.
As Duo turned the discarded phone in his hand, Heero adjusted the lighter man's position from sitting on his lap to placing him back onto the couch. "I have to go now." he said with quiet regret.
Duo reacted to the simple statement immediately by placing the phone back on the table, then turned to put his arms around Heero, holding him tightly. "I'll come back as soon as I can, alright?" the Japanese man promised as his lips brushed the burnished brown hair. "And some day soon," he whispered into Duo's ear, "no one and nothing will keep us apart."
Duo nodded and reluctantly pulled back.
"Take care." Heero said, and after a quick kiss on Duo's lips, he gave a nod of thanks to Wufei, then stood up from the couch and left the house without looking back.
Sad eyes turned to Wufei who rose quickly moved from his end of the couch to put a comforting arm around his friend's shoulder. "Have faith in him Duo, he'll do what he says." he said in his most hopeful voice.
A long, silent sigh escaped the long haired young man and he looked down at the table and the cell phone he'd placed there a moment before. Reaching into the pocket of his jeans, he pulled out the Swiss Army knife Quatre had given to him as a gift and pulled out the miniature screwdriver.
"You're going to attempt that now?" Wufei asked in disbelief. He had been hoping to get to bed early for once.
Duo nodded and made a motion with his hand, signaling Wufei to go to bed.
"No, I think I'll stay up and watch the late-night news." he replied and went back to his previous spot on the couch, picking up the t.v. remote control as he sat down once again.
Between news reports, Wufei watched as Duo opened the cell phone's outer casing and began to dismantle it layer by layer, setting each piece out on the table in order from left to right. Duo paused after a short while to look at the pieces and to shake out his right hand; it seemed even holding the screwdriver for that short of time had brought him some pain. The first item in the row of parts was the back casing of the phone, the GPL* chip every Preventer issued cell phone contained, and a miniature circuit board. But before he could go much further, a loud knock at the front door startled both young men. Duo's head turned with a jerk to look over his shoulder at his companion with a worried look in his eyes.
Wufei frowned and looked at his watch. "I can't imagine who that could be at this hour. Maybe Mrs. L. forgot her key." he suggested to ease the other's worry.
Duo shook his head in disbelief of Wufei's suggestion. Both of them knew the elderly woman was not capable of such a forceful knock.
The knock sounded again, strong and firm. "I'll get it." Wufei stood. "But be ready to run if you have to." He warned, then waited until Duo nodded in agreement.
He walked to the front door, wishing he had his gun on him and grateful for the closed curtain over the small inlaid glass within the door. With his hand on the doorknob, he looked back to see Duo had come to his feet and was watching him from the far end of the couch with a look of uneasiness mixed with a trace of fear on his face. He turned back to the door. "Who is it?" he called out.
"It's Lucretia Noin, Wufei. I need to speak with you."
Again the two in the room exchanged curious glances, having recognized the voice as belonging to the person she claimed to be.
"Is this Preventer business?" he asked, facing the door again.
"I'm tying up some loose ends on an old case, and I need to speak with you to do that."
Wufei turned and motioned Duo to move into the kitchen so their unexpected guest wouldn't see him.
Duo nodded, then bent to pick something up from the table, then silently limped to the back part of the house.
"Couldn't you have called me?" Wufei continued, his irritation sounding in his voice. "I'm about to retire for the night."
"Your cell phone doesn't seem to be working, Wufei." She answered. "And you know I wouldn't be here at this hour if this wasn't important." she explained.
Wufei sighed and opened the door to reveal not only Noin, but also agents Harris and Birmingham, two men he deemed questionable in their actions, who had been brought up on reports for their over-zealous behavior during the last two years. The Chinese man had always thought them to be unscrupulous and sneaky and managed to avoided working with them. Their presence behind the black haired woman did not bode well with him. He put his foot behind the slightly opened door to bar them entry.
"Are they your secretaries or official butt wipers?" he asked in a sharp, reproving tone as he spitefully glared at the two.
Noin ignored his snide remarks and attitude and with a grim face she held out a paper for Wufei to look at and recognize its importance. It was a warrant for the arrest of one Duo Maxwell.
"What the hell is this?" Wufei's eyes narrowed with anger building inside him.
"We're here to take custody of Duo Maxwell and return him to Penal Colony Four." Noin announced in a no-nonsense voice.
"On what charges?" Wufei demanded loudly, hoping Duo could hear the commotion and sneak out the back door.
"For gaining illegal parole from that colony."
"Illegal!" Wufei shouted, his anger was reaching the breaking point quickly. Knowing that Duo's presence was now known to others, he responded honestly. "Trowa met with the Warden, paid the fees required and was given custody of Duo. There was nothing illegal about it other than the way Duo was treated there."
"That's not for me to decide." Noin replied, looking uncomfortable with the situation. "I'm here to enforce the warrant."
"This is Relena's doing, isn't it?" he asked through his gritted teeth. "She's already under investigation for obtaining secret documents to use in an illegal manner to harm Duo for her own purposes. If you think any of us pilots will stand by and watch..."
His words came to a halt when a loud popping sound coming from behind Noin coincided with a sharp pain in his shoulder. With a disbelieving glance down, he saw that he'd been hit by a tranquilizer dart. Betrayal shone in his eyes as he looked up again into the woman's face before him. "Run!" he shouted in a last-ditch effort to save Duo, even as he felt his muscles relax and his body crumple down to the floor. His last thoughts were for Duo, praying he would be able to get away.
Duo listened carefully to the conversation at the front door from inside the dark kitchen. When he heard the tone of Wufei's voice, telling of his growing anger, he sensed trouble. But once he heard Noin state her purpose, he backed closer to the kitchen door that led outside, pocketing the small tracking chip he'd taken from Wufei's phone when he left the living room. Panic flowed through him as he tried to think of where he should go. His instincts took over and he exited the house silently and, in the dark of night, he made his way to the side of the house and to the gate that would let him out of the fenced yard.
A clear, loud popping sound was heard followed by a strangled cry of "Run!". Wufei's voice sounded panicked, and then, from the outside of the house, Duo heard footsteps running through the rooms in what must be a search for him. With his slightly trembling body pressed up against the edge of the house, he chanced a look at the front yard and saw that the front porch, with its welcoming porch light on, was empty, the front door was open, spilling even more light from the entry out onto the porch and front steps. Directly in front of the house was parked a dark, obviously government issued van with its headlights out and the faint sound of the purring motor that was barely audible. In the darkness he couldn't tell if anyone was there or not, but he realized he had no choice but to chance leaving the temporary safety of the shadows for the sidewalk as his gimpy leg wouldn't allow him to climb fences without a lot of noise and commotion. So with fear and determination pushing him, he forced himself away from the shadows and ran out of the yard and down the street, staying as close to the bushes and dark shadows as much as possible. His irregular gait was the only sound in his ears until he heard a shout from behind him accompanied with the pounding of feet on the pavement in pursuit.
With his bad arm tucked in tightly against his body, he forced his damaged leg to move faster. The fear driven rush of adrenaline drove him on and seemed to produce the speed he needed to get away. With panicked tears filling his eyes, he realized the footsteps chasing him were drawing closer. /Please God, don't let them catch me. Don't send me back there. Please God.....Herro./ he desperately cried out in his mind and suddenly, he was plunged forward and fell as he was tackled from behind.
His hands automatically responded to the forward, falling sensation by reaching out to try and catch himself. But the extra weight of his pursuer on his back added to the momentum of the fall, causing not only his hands to scrap painfully against the pavement, but a shock of pain simultaneously occurred with a clear sounding snap of bone as he crashed face-forward onto the sidewalk. His agonized scream was heard only in his head in response to the jolt of pain that shot out from his weaker, upper left arm and spread like a shockwave throughout his body.
The person behind him quickly scrambled up and held him down with his knee. He immediately grabbed both of Duo's arms and wrenched them back in preparation of putting the handcuffs on, and with quick, practiced efficiency, unknowingly causing his prisoner unbearable pain to his already shocked system, the metal restraints clicked into place. And when his attacker picked him up and carelessly tossed him onto his back, Duo felt the broken bone break through the skin of his upper left arm and blackness engulfed him without even seeing who it was that had taken him down.
A sound, very far off, entered his thoughts and he frowned at its interruption of sleep. His mouth, he realized, tasted like bitter medicine.
"Wufei!" He felt someone tapping relentlessly on his cheek. "Wake up Wufei." There was a tone of command coming from a voice he now vaguely recognized as Quatre's.
Ouch! That slap hurt, he thought and groaned in reaction. His eyes as well as his mind didn't want to obey the order.
"Wufei, wake up. Where's Duo? What happened?"
The fog in his mind cleared just enough to register the tone of fear in Quatre's voice. Then, with muted wonder at such an unusual sound, his memory came back like the sudden opening of a door. Now with a sense of urgency, Wufei forced his mind back to a fuller state of consciousness. His body reacted sluggishly to his will as he slowly blinked his eyes open and, with his vision blurry, he barely recognized Mrs. L standing behind the couch looking down at him while wringing her hands, her face lined with worry. Her aged eyes were close to spilling the tears that were welled up in them. Trowa and Sally hovered over him from the other side of the couch and over the back of Quatre who knelt at his side looking very upset.
"What happened Wufei?" Trowa asked anxiously.
"Oh Nataku!" he groaned. "Did he get away?"
"Duo?" Quatre asked. "Tell us what happened."
"Help me sit up." Wufei said weakly, trying to organize his fuzzy thoughts. He felt hands raising him into a sitting position, propping his back against the arm of the couch.
"Mrs. L. came home at eleven thirty and found you unconscious on the floor with a tranquilizer dart embedded in your shoulder." Quatre related what they knew to their groggy friend. "She called Trowa on his cell phone and we got here around midnight." Blue eyes concentrated fully on the unfocused black ones. "Where's Duo, Wufei? He's not here."
"Told him to run." he answered in a thick voice. He felt a glass of water put to his lips and he greedily drank from it.
"I gave you a shot of stimulants to counteract the tranquilizer." Sally told him in a soft voice. "Otherwise you'd have slept until mid morning."
"Time?" he asked
"One-thirty a.m." she replied and moved her hand up to lift his left eyelid open to check the dilation of his pupil's.
"Noin came to the door shortly after Heero left at eleven." he began to explain and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees as he lowered his forehead into his upraised hands to ease his growing headache and nauseousness.
"She had those two goons with her." He recalled the scene in his mind.
"Goons?" Trowa asked with a frown.
Wufei nodded. "Harris and Birmingham" he replied, and with his head down he failed to see the look of anger spread across Trowa's face.
"She had a warrant for Duo's arrest."
"That must mean Relena knows?" The blond moaned and shook his head. "On what grounds did they serve the warrant?" Quatre asked in a dismayed tone of voice. "Duo's been with someone from the moment Trowa bailed him out. What charges could they have come up with?"
"Illegally being paroled from the Penal Colony."
"That's a lie!" Trowa hissed angrily.
"It's an excuse." Quatre amended, his voice also clipped with momentary anger.
"Did you contact Heero?" Wufei asked, pulling an errant strand of hair back behind his ear.
"We've tried to contact him by phone but we were both denied access to him." Trowa answered as he motioned to the others. "Sally tried, and she couldn't get through either."
"Oh my," Mrs. L.'s trembling voice spoke up. "Do they have our boy then?" she asked. "What will they do to him?" her worry was palpable to the others in the room but they didn't have the time to ease her mind, that would come later when Duo was home again.
Sally spoke up to answer her question in a calm tone. "Since Duo hasn't shown himself, I think we have to assume he'd been taken into custody." her voice sounded grave. "I'm going to call Une and see what she can tell me."
"Do you think that's wise?" Quatre queried. "She may be involved in this as well. Were the Preventers sent out by her or Relena? Lady Une is the only person, other than ourselves, who knows of Duo's whereabouts."
Trowa shook his head. "I don't think so, but if she is involved, she may tell Sally before she'd admit it to us. We have to turn to someone for help." he added.
Sally stood and removed her cell phone from her belt and moved off a bit to make the call.
"I'm sorry." Wufei said in a defeated tone.
"Don't be." Trowa replied sharply. "It wasn't your fault." he told him. "I just wonder how the hell Relena found out about him being here."
"I don't know." Quatre answered, "but it could have been from one of her Preventer leaks, the Penal colony, or from someone who recognized Duo from one of our outings and reported it. We all knew it was inevitable that she would find out one day."
"I should have been more careful." Trowa castigated himself as he threw himself ungracefully onto the chair opposite the couch. "When he was healthy enough, we should have moved Duo to a more secure location, far away from here." He leaned forward and buried his head in his hands. "I promised him no one would ever hurt him again." he moaned feeling miserable at his failure to keep his word to Duo.
Quatre eased himself next to his shaken lover, sitting on the arm of the chair with his arm over his shoulder. "We'll get him back Trowa, even if I have to go into that dammed Penal Colony and trade my own colony to free him. I promise you he will never have to stay a day in a place like that again."
Wufei sat hunched over on the edge of the couch feeling as miserable as Trowa. He felt sick, both from the drugs in his system and from Duo's disappearance and his own inability to keep him safe. Though as miserable as he felt, he shuddered to think about what Duo was feeling at that moment.
Sally came back into the room as she closed her cell phone. "Une said she was unaware of Preventers having a warrant for Duo and that Noin, Harris and Birmingham were assigned to different cases. They shouldn't have been here at the house in the guise of Preventers and they had no authorization to use a tranquilizer gun."
"Looks like we know who Relena's moles are." Quatre said with a frown. They'd worked with Lucretia Noin in the war and she had become a trusted ally. Her betrayal of Duo stung bitterly.
Sally continued with better news. "She's going to alert the air and space ports to stop any of them from leaving Earth with Duo on the grounds of checking the validity of the arrest warrant. Even if it is legitimate, Duo should first have been turned over to the Preventers and then processed through the system before returning him to the Penal Colony. What Noin has done goes way beyond suspicious for Une."
"Then we have some time." Trowa said in a dull voice, his face still cradled in his hands.
"Yes." Sally replied. "We need to find them and keep Une informed of any progress."
"And Heero?" Wufei cut in. "He needs to be told." he said firmly as his mind shifted back to a few hours previous when Heero had gently held and kissed Duo, promising love and safety to the young man whose life had been so shattered.
"I'll do that." Quatre volunteered. "The palace is used to me being there. I believe I can gain access to him."
"Relena is likely to be unhappy with you for withholding information about Duo." Trowa said to the blond, worry lining his face.
"To bad." Quatre answered with a determined frown. "What can she do to me besides be unpleasant?"
"Did we ever consider she'd have power over Heero?" Wufei reminded him as his mind slowly cleared enough for him to participate in the planning.
There was a moment of contemplative silence before the Arabian spoke again. "I'll be careful." he assured them.
"I need to make some calls." Wufei said and moved to rise a bit unsteadily from his seat. "I'll check with security at Preventers to see if they took him there. We can also send a fax out to local hotels and motels with an alert to contact us if Duo and his captors are spotted. But I need a phone."
"What happened to yours?" Sally asked looking at the partially dismantled parts on the table.
The Asian man shrugged. "I kept getting phone calls but no one was on the other end, so I let Duo tinker with it for a while after Heero left." he explained as his attention turned back to the parts on the coffee table. His eyes narrowed as he looked at the pieces laying in a straight line, evenly spaced, and noticed that a part was missing from the line-up.
Sally, watching him closely noticed the intense look he gave the cell phone pieces. "What?" she asked.
"There's a part missing." He answered as he bent down to pick up the half disassembled phone, he looked at the pieces to determine which part was missing. He mentally put each piece back into the casing until he came to the empty spot. "It's the GPL chip." he said excitedly. "Duo took it." he told them with eyes lighting up at his discovery. "Every Preventer cell phone has it in order to trace their position if something goes wrong. Duo took it when he left the room."
"Sally," Quatre's eyes sparkled. "call Une and see if someone can put a trace on the GPL chip in Wufei's phone. If we can find it, we will probably find Duo."
The blond then turned to Trowa and quickly embraced him. "I'm going to the palace to get Heero, even if I have to stand outside his window and throw rocks I'll get his attention. Once we're out of there, we'll meet you at Preventers. Let me know if you find anything."
"Be careful." Trowa admonished his lover and, with a quick, fierce kiss in parting, the CEO of Winner Enterprises turned on his heel and disappeared out the front door and into the night, determined to accomplish his mission.
Sally got on her phone and the other two Preventers moved to get their laptops to start a rescue mission.
*GPL - Global Positioning Locator