Silencing The Secrets
Within an hour, Gene had returned with an efficient report of the situation. Preventers was fairly certain there were additional wounded
deeper within the colony and felt it would actually be best if Gene went into the colony with Jack and Heero as long as he had enough
medical supplies to perform first aid as they went. Since Preventers loaded them down with extra medical materials Heero felt it was
only right to give them some of the unneeded rescue gear in return. Finally, outfitted with everything they needed whichthey could carry
or otherwise transport themselves, the three men headed out.
The information was indeed correct and the farther they traveled, the more pockets of survivors they encountered. Luckily, this had been
an agronomic station and while the population was spread out to a certain extent, there was plenty of food to be had. Most inhabitants
were simply staying close to their homes waiting for the power to be restored and hoping they wouldn't loose the entire year's crops.
This gave the three shelter and food the first time they decided to stop for a long rest, it didn't seem right to call it "night" in nearly
complete darkness; they continued on within an hour of awakening. Rasid had done an excellent job of outfitting them and each wore
what looked like hats spelunkers would wear with artificial lighting on them. It was one less thing to carry on their backs or in their
hands, and they made good time.
After walking for some time, they stopped to eat some of the food they carried.
"So, Heero," Gene asked hesitantly, "Any idea where to look for you friends?"
"Yes," Heero smiled faintly. "Based on the information I got from the crash site, it looked like at least one or maybe more people had
been heading in this direction. I'm assuming that if we keep asking, we'll find Wufei along this route."
"What seems strange to me, Heero, is that no one's seen anyone at any of the places we've asked." Jack looked worried.
"That bothers me, too, Jack, but I'm not willing to give up yet." Heero tried to finish his food quickly, he hated loosing time like this, but a
rest was needed. "True, perhaps they took a different route, but it seems unlikely. What seems more likely is that we've already missed
them or they didn't take as long as we are."
Gene snorted in disbelief. "I doubt they were moving faster than we are, Heero! We're fully able bodied and have the gear, if you really
think we've missed them we should double back."
Heero looked thoughtfully at a map of the colony before answering. "Well, Gene, let's wait on that. According to my calculations, we're
about 12 kilometers from a town of sorts, lot's look there."
"Acceptable," Gene remarked then stood up signaling he was ready to go. Shoving the last bites of food in his mouth, Jack rose and
Heero seemed to rise without moving, old training coming to the fore.
When they arrived at the town, they finally got the information they needed in the form of someone who had come in from slightly "south"
of their route. It turned out that someone in a Preventers uniform had been encountered on the other route. When asked, it seemed that
the person spotted could have been Wufei, but they weren't sure, the darkness being a constant problem for everyone on the colony.
Another difficulty with the possible sighting of Wufei was that the person in question had been injured, yet was refusing assistance. This
last piece of information made Heero more certain they were on the right track. That level of determination did indeed sound like his
missing friend and they pushed on in the direction the witness had indicated.
During the walk, the power had come back on bringing highly desirable lighting once more for several hours, but then it had winked out
again. During that time oxygen had seemed to be replenished as air handling units seemed to operate full force. It was theorized that
additional power units had been brought in and they were going across the colony grid powering up lights and air for a period then
powering it back down to cover another area.
Eventually, all three grew tired and, using a distance light source briefly, Heero spotted a storage silo where they felt certain they could
obtain more food so they could keep their supplies reserved for later use. They headed towards it with little discussion, planning to sleep
after eating, then get on their way again. There was a surprise waiting for them there, though.
After the harrowing night of the phantoms, Duo's condition improved slowly but surely.
After two long weeks of in-patient drug rehabilitation, he was released into Akheem's care at the estate. This time, however, no risks
were taken with an unknown psychiatrist and Celcia herself took care of Duo's continuing needs. The removal of the drugs from his
system had been traumatic and debilitating, so for some time he was content to simply stay in bed most of the day, dozing on and off.
He did usually make a point to see the children after school, though, and Laurel never failed to amuse him with some pointless detail of
her day or another.
"So, Princess," he asked tiredly one afternoon, "Have you been enjoying having Vash around?"
"Oh, yes, Uncle Duo," she smiled. "Vash is really a lot of fun, even though I like to say he's 'silly' all the time! He thinks it's funny the way
I say it and so does Quatre-daddy, so I say it even if it does sound like baby talk."
"Ah," Duo nodded. "So you're just doing that because you love them, right?"
"Right!" She smirked as Vash came into the room.
"Hey, Mr. Maxwell, how are you, sir?" the boy was polite to a fault at times.
"Ouch, Vash!" Duo pretended to be wounded. "You make me sound *old* that way! Honestly, I suddenly feel *ancient*, like, oh, say
21?" He grinned knowing how absurd this sounded as Vash snickered a little. "Call me 'Uncle Duo' like Laurel does, okay? After all,
your mom's brother and I consider ourselves to be family, so you should, too!"
The tall blond boy laughed, "Okay, Uncle Duo!" He grinned. "Ill never turn down more family! Since mom adopted me it seems like I
gain new relatives every day, it's great! I still miss my folks, but now I've got more cousins and aunts and uncles than I could have even
imagined! Just think what Christmas will be like with so many kids!"
"Oi, Christmas!" Duo looked shocked for a moment. "Good thing I've still got all of autumn to get through before that gets here, picking
out gifts for you two will be tough! Laurel's got everything I could think of and I have no idea what you might like, so who knows what
Vash grinned, "Well, nothing for me, sir. Sorry! I meant, 'Uncle Duo'! I'm pretty happy with what I have right now."
"Me too!" Laurel chirped hoping she would remember to make certain her daddies didn't try to spoil her too much at the holidays. After
all, she started getting deliveries of toys again and there was more there than she could use, but it made Trowa happy to do it, so she
never complained. She'd even started setting things aside for Sadeema to take to the local orphanage when she thought Trowa wouldn't
mind her sharing her good fortune. Trowa, however, didn't know about any of this, he just felt so lucky that her childhood would
improve now and never be as disastrous as his own had been when he ended up with the heartless mercenaries who had abused him.
Even if he had known, though, it would have been fine, too. The girl could do little to truly anger him, she continued to make his life more
satisfying than he had ever imagined.
Yawning, Duo finally thanked the kids for dropping by to see him, but he was tired. After they left, he lay quietly contemplating the many
little things he couldn't seem to remember and wondering if it would improve. It never occurred to him that it wasn't necessarily just a
matter of time but it was also a matter of re-experiencing certain things, especially spending time with Heero.
As the so-called "A-Team" approached the storage silo, they heard something unexpected, soft groans of pain.
"Is someone there?" Gene called out into the darkness which his helmet light didn't penetrate.
"Here." The voice was roughened with pain and exhaustion, but Heero knew it and took off at a dead run.
"Wufei! It's Heero! Where are you?" Heero turned his head from side to side hoping the light would lead him to his friend.
"Heero?!?" Wufei's tired voice came out of the darkness as Heero redirected his strides. "I'm over here, against the side of whatever this
damned cold thing is," Wufei seemed relieved yet the pain was clear in the choked voice.
Heero suddenly spotted him off to one side, crumpled on the ground and leaning against the storage silo. "Gene! Get over here, he's
hurt!" Heero called, kneeling down next to his friend and drawing the Chinese pilot into his arms startling Wufei who was not
accustomed to his friend exhibiting emotions so openly.
"Hugging people, Heero?" Wufei wasn't teasing but simply surprised as he returned the embrace with as much strength as he could
spare. "Feels damned good to know I'm not going to end up dead out here alone after all."
"Dead?" Heero asked puzzled, then realized he'd neglected the pain he had heard in his friend's voice or the reports of injuries
encountered earlier. "Remember Gene Starwind, Wufei?"
"Yes, good to see you again, Gene," Wufei had relaxed back slumped against the silo as Gene knelt next to him, checking his pulse.
"I'm glad we found you, Wufei," Gene's voice was concerned, the young man in front of him was in bad shape. "Tell me what
Wufei winced at the memories that assailed his senses. "The shuttle crashed during docking when an EMP hit. Most of the others were
dead or missing when I regained consciousness. There wasn't anyone around, so I did what I could to get to Sally alone. Unfortunately,"
he groaned sharply as Gene examined his legs, "I think I broke a leg, I splinted it best I could and the other one is probably sprained
since it seems to hurt worse the farther I get."
"I'm afraid you're wrong," Gene took a medical kit from Jack and got to work. "Looks like they are both broken and one of them is a
compound fracture. I'll need to bandage both and start you on antibiotics. You seem to be running a low-grade fever now, we should
stop any infection from getting worse that way. How did you get so far in such bad shape?"
Wufei's face darkened with anger, "I have to. Sally is still out there somewhere and there's no other way to get her back safely. Arghhh!"
He muffled the shout as Gene suddenly assaulted the puncture wound that had resulted from the compound fracture forcing its way
through the skin. The wound was a garish red under the artificial light and looked decidedly painful.
"Well," Gene looked at both Gundam pilots apologetically, "I'm afraid you aren't going anywhere solo now. You're right, left here alone
another day or so and that infection could have become lethal. It's gone systemic due to lack of treatment. But we're here now and we'll
find a way to get you out of here and back to civilization."
"No!" Wufei was adamant once more. "I go nowhere except in search of Sally and her team. That's my mission here and I will complete
Heero knew how single-minded the Chinese man could be and agreed. "Fine, Wufei. We'll all go look for her, but we need a rest and
some food. How long has it been since you've eaten?"
Wufei chuckled, "How long has it been since we crashed? I didn't have any survival gear beyond a pair of flashlights and they died hours
ago. Now that you mention it, I wondered why I was hungry."
"Very funny, Mr. Chang," Jack smiled, wondering if Wufei even knew who he was but not really worrying too much about it.
"That was not intended as levity, Mr. Ryuzouji, simply a statement of fact." Wufei deadpanned.
"We all know each other after all," Heero smiled bitterly. "First order of business then is to let Gene finish his work, Wufei, then we eat.
Hope you won't kill us, but we're tired and need a rest, so after we eat we're going to sleep for awhile. Then we can go look for Sally.
Any idea where she might be?"
"Not certain on this, but rumor has it there's a Preventer doctor in a town farther down this route. That's where I was going before my
legs gave out." Wufei seemed disgusted with his apparent weakness.
"No problem then," Gene smiled, injecting a broad-spectrum antibiotic into his arm. "We'll eat, sleep, and you can recover a little then
we'll go find that town and see if she's there. Sound fair to you?"
Wufei suddenly yawned, "Sounds good, Gene, especially eating. What've you got?"
Heero smirked, "You're leaning against a food storage silo, Wufei. We thought we'd raid it first and if there's nothing useable there,
we've got survival rations. Gene, stay here with him and we'll go see what's in it. C'mon, Jack, let's go see if our good luck is holding out.
Granted," he smirked at his old friend who was being bandaged, "We did find Wufei here, so if there's no food I can live with it."
There was, however, a large quantity of grain stored there along with emergency rations for some unknown reason, so the now
four-membered team ate well then slept for about seven hours before continuing in their quest.