Heero pushed his body to the limit, literally ripping the leafy underbrush barring his way apart with his bare hands as he tore through the jungle. Behind him, he could hear Quatre's breath coming in soft pants as he followed the trail the Perfect Soldier made. Without looking, Heero knew Trowa was right behind the blonde pilot, watching out for the Arabian while Wufei took up the rear. Before starting his headlong dash towards the location of Duo's Gundam after hearing the terrifying roar come from that direction, he'd seen a flash of metal as Wufei freed his sword as a method of added protection as they ran.
A fallen log, easily the size and thickness of a small car loomed before him and Heero merely placed his hands down, vaulting over the tree without slowing his pace, landing with a muddy splash on the other side. Dirty water splashed his legs, streaking them brown. Something was urging him to go, move faster. Something was wrong, dreadfully wrong - he didn't need Quatre's space heart to know that his koi had landed in some kind of trouble. He could feel it.
The air was rent asunder with the sound of another growl, loud and hungry enough to make Heero's blood chill and he froze. The other three pilots slid to a halt behind him, gasping.
"SHHH!" Heero raised his hand, calling for silence. As they quieted, the heard a huge crash erupt and suddenly a huge piece of metal came flying through the foliage.
" DOWN!" Heero shouted as he hit the dirt. Quatre and Trowa dropped flat and Wufei leaped aside as the shard struck the log they had just climbed. Quatre raised his head, looked back, and gasped.
" It's a part of Deathscythe!"
Heero's head snapped forwards as a high-pitched scream erupted, too high and feral to be human. A burnt smell wafted through the growth and earth-shaking thuds suddenly started coming closer, faster and faster, getting louder. Heero threw himself behind a large boulder, the other pilots following his lead. Just as Wufei hid himself, the trees opened up and a monster straight out of Heero's worst nightmares burst through, all snarls, claws and teeth. Icy-cold reptilian eyes glared with intelligence, the long tail snapping like a whip behind it as a loud growl rumbled continuously from it. The Wing pilot froze, cobalt eyes impossibly huge as he watched the gigantic creature clomp past their hiding place. Even as it disappeared, he couldn't take his eyes off where it faded from view.
" Tyrannosaurus," Wufei breathed heavily. Heero nearly jumped out of his skin as Wufei materialized next to him, eyes just as round.
" There's your carnivore you were talking about," Trowa muttered, pushing himself up. He turned to the blonde. " Quatre…?"
The blonde huddled on the ground, clutching his chest. Trowa dropped back next to him, afraid that he'd injured the smaller pilot when he'd thrown himself on top of him. " Quatre - are you okay?"
Quatre looked up, trembling, and gasped. " Duo!"
Heero tore his gaze away from the rampaging dinosaur's trail and his blood ran cold at the sight before him.
Where once had stood a tall grove of trees, lush plant life and vines, now lay a decimated plain. Small fires, no doubt caused by Deathscythe's landing, sputtered pitifully, sending clouds of black smoke drifting. Heero's eyes fell on the black death machine.
" Merciful Nataku!"
Deathscythe lay crumpled on the ground. Its paint was scratched and the gundanium shell was dented - actually cracked in some places. More tendrils of smoke wafted up from the machine and Heero's legs suddenly regained their ability to move. Sprinting over, he climbed on top of the huge suit and slid down the other side where the hatch was.
Heero kicked the hatch out of the way, noting automatically the scorch marks along the hinge. Duo had obviously cut it away with his portable scythe, but that didn't stop him from taking a quick look inside. He sucked in a breath at the splashes of blood coating the interior of the suit, and the sight of the harness lying in a limp pile on the console.
" Is he down there?"
Trowa peered over the side of the Gundam, one eye covered by his long hair but that didn't stop the concern from showing up, plain as day. Heero shook his head.
" Negative." Heero pulled his gun out and leaped up to join him. He could see Quatre and Wufei searching the plain for a trace of the missing pilot. Trowa swallowed hard and looked at the tense frame of Heero.
" Do you think that.." his voice trailed off as he remembered the huge dinosaur lumbering away. Heero knew what the green-eyed boy was alluding to and froze, levelling a deadly glare at him.
Trowa nodded and leaped down to join the other three in their search. Heero's eyes narrowed as he scanned the area.
" Duo!" Quatre shouted. " Duo, where are you?"
" MAXWELL! Stop scaring Quatre! Get out here now!" Wufei's words were deceptive as his eyes frantically searched the grass lining the crash zone.
Heero's eyes widened and he whirled around.
Duo stepped out from behind a large rock, scythe still clutched in trembling, blood-soaked hands. Blood streamed down from a gash on his temple, his braid was a tangled mess, with strands glued to his face as he stared at them with wild, disbelieving eyes.
He took a step forwards towards the shell-shocked Heero, and then his eyes rolled up into the back of his head. As his knees gave out, he heard Heero shout his name and then everything went dark.
"Duo!" Heero shouted the pilot's name and lunged forwards, catching the braided boy just before he hit the ground. Quatre was the closest to them and scrambled over, Trowa hot on his heels. Still watching the surrounding trees warily, Wufei edged back towards them.
" Allah he's lost a lot of blood," Quatre gasped as he took in the blood-soaked form. Heero nodded grimly, already pulling Duo's black jacket off. The red turtleneck was pulled aside and they could finally see the extent of the damage. Trowa ran a hand lightly over Duo's abdomen and winced.
" Two broken at least. Maybe more," he nodded at Heero. The Wing pilot nodded curtly as he pulled the ragged edges of Duo's pant leg to the side. The limb had a weird curve to it and Heero sucked in his breath.
" Broken leg." At least it didn't break the skin. Quatre scanned the ground and saw a sturdy stick nearby. Snatching it up, he broke off the end and laid it flat. Heero took a deep breath and then taking Duo's leg in his hands, made a quick motion.
Quatre turned white as Heero set the leg, but braced himself, lining the stick against the Shinigami pilot's leg. Heero ripped several strips from his tank top and used them to bind the stick tightly. Quatre did the same to his vest and wound the strips around Duo's waist, getting Trowa to lift Duo enough to get it all the way around.
Wufei kept one eye on them and one eye on the forest.
" That should do for now," Quatre said, sitting back and wiping his brow. " It's only temporary."
" Thankfully he didn't hit anything too vital. If we're careful, he should make it with out too much trouble." Trowa confirmed Quatre's words, looking down at Duo with a relieved look. Heero grunted, still checking Duo for more injuries. Wufei glanced at them neutrally.
" Maxwell will live?"
Quatre nodded. Wufei shrugged.
" That's nice. We may not."
Quatre, Trowa and Heero's heads snapped up and looked at the Shenlong pilot. Wufei's muscles were tense, his sword out in one hand, and the other holding his sidearm.
" Explain!" Heero ordered tersely. Wufei gestured to the greenery around them.
" We're surrounded." He swallowed hard. " We're being hunted."