Vampire Hunter Duo
" No way," Jen said flatly. " No way you're a Gundam pilot." She thrust her coffee cup forward, forefinger extended in an accusing jab. " You are a kid."
" Hey," Duo objected, batting her finger away from his nose and nearly spilling her coffee. She growled at him and hovered over it protectively. " If anything, I'm a teen, not a kid."
" To-may-to, to-mah-to KID," she stressed. " You don't honestly expect me to believe a little punk like you was an elite soldier."
Duo chuckled darkly. " Frankly, I don't care if you believe me. But I believed you, didn't I?"
Jen opened her mouth to argue, realized he was right, and shut her mouth. Koby grinned.
" Don't mind her - she's an outspoken kind of person. " He eyed Duo appraisingly. " But you have to admit, it's kind of hard to take in."
Duo shrugged. " It's the truth. And I don't lie, so don't even suggest it."
" Wasn't gonna." Koby glanced at his grumbling partner and chucked a sugar packet at her. " Here. Relax a little."
She stuck her tongue out at him but opened the packet anyway, dumping it into the coffee that was slowly starting to solidify in front of Duo's eyes.
" Kids piloting Gundams…" Koby mused, staring out the window with a blank expression. " And I thought goons were bad - I'm assuming regular everyday guys were the ones that, uh, hired you?"
Duo thought of Doc G and Doc J as normal and cackled. " I suppose you could say that."
Koby grinned and sat down next to Jen. Duo raised an eyebrow at them. " What?"
" You gonna tell us your story or what?"
" So I left Quatre's place," Duo finished with a sigh. He glanced at his watch - he'd been talking for nearly two hours. The sun had begun to rise nearly an hour now, and Duo had never been so glad to see it in his life. " I travel around like a vagabond and you guys ran into me killing that guy last night."
Koby and Jen exchanged looks.
" Impressive story kid," Jen began slowly. " You certainly know how to take care of yourself."
Duo shrugged nonchalantly. " Part of life on L2. You learn to survive. When G asked me to pilot Deathscythe, it was just one more means of survival."
" Uh-huh." Jen crossed her ams and leaned back into her chair. Beside her, Koby was still playing with the dagger; now his eyes looked up and there was a faint gleam to them.
" Come with us."
Duo blinked. " What?"
" Come with us. " Koby stood up and strode over to the window, looking out at the signs of life coming awake in the city. " You'd be a valuable addition to our team."
Duo looked a little uneasy. " I don't know…."
" Well what's the difference?" Jen demanded, joining Koby at the window. " You said so yourself - you were fighting to free the colonies right?"
" Well, we're fighting to protect the world from demons." She pointed out the window. " Look at them Duo - a city full of innocents that become prey for the hunter as soon as it gets dark. Murdered, slaughtered like lambs, and eternally damned as a killer of the devil." She turned and looked at the boy; suddenly her eyes looked so much older and wiser and Duo shuddered despite himself. " I've seen horrors that could easily rival your worst nightmares kid - I could never go back to the way I was, not knowing what I know now. Can you?"
Duo thought about it for a second, and saw his future before him, forever guarding himself from the dark where the boogeymen were real and drank your blood. Forever watching out windows, wanting to warn people to come in at night. Innocents turning up dead with no explanation but he knowing the truth. He didn't want to admit it, but in the pit of his stomach, he knew she was right.
" No," he said at last. " No, I can't."
Jen smiled grimly. " Welcome aboard."
" Say goodnight Gracie," Duo hissed as he plunged the stake home. The twisting, writhing creature pinned beneath him howled and exploded. Duo stood up casually and flicked the remains off his dark jacket, a faint look of disgust on his face. He heard footsteps approach and he tensed automatically until he heard a familiar voice.
" Good job."
" Thanks. " Duo flipped his sunglasses up on his head. Jen had teased him about wearing shades at night, but it was better then getting that icky dust in his eyes every time he killed a goon.
It disturbed him a little, how casually he killed the creatures. Several months had passed since he'd met Koby and Jen and learned how dark the world truly could be. He had been squeamish about being such a cold-blooded killer until one night in a cemetery in North York he killed a vamp about to snack on a young woman walking by with her young daughter. They had come so close to death that Duo had been terrified he wouldn't make it in time.
But he did, and he killed, and he came to the conclusion that these creatures deserved no mercy. After that, it was was easy for him to slip back into his Shinigami persona, treating his battle with goons like his battles with Mobile Suits until it became a nickname for him in their group, and Jen was no longer surprised to hear " Shinigami's come to take you back to Hell where you belong!" during fights.
Speaking of the group, about two days after hooking up with Jen and Koby, he'd been introduced to the rest of the team, and he had hit it off with them all, winning their respect by revealing his past job history.
There was Steve, of medium size with scruffy blonde hair. He was a laidback kind of guy until you threatened his near and dear. Then he became a whirlwind of death, using specially made guns that fired silver bullets. Duo learned that silver bullets could wear a vamp down and severely incapacitate them long enough to get close and stick `em with "Junior." When Duo learned about the stake's name, he just rolled his eyes and told Steve, he didn't want to know.
Then there was Ayan. A short black woman, she was the religious one of the group, she carried around various religious artifacts, and prayed for the souls of the damned that they released, hoping their human spirits would go on to their just rewards, leaving the demons to their hellish afterlife. She had immediately accepted Duo into their group, praising his cross, and handing him his own stake and vials of holy water to carry with him at all times.
Finally, there was Dash. Dash was kind of a loner, but Duo was used to that kind of attitude - hadn't he spent years of dealing with Wufei? - and charmed him over by introducing himself right off, and refusing to be rebuffed by his churlish nature. Dash was a huge guy, whose raw strength matched that of a fledgling vampire, and he worked on improving it constantly. He carried several stakes on him at all time, and was a master at using the crossbow. When Duo learned that, he'd instantly demanded lessons, and trained with them religiously, every spare second he got. He was still looking to improve his aim, but even Dash had been impressed with how quickly he'd adapted to the foreign weapon.Duo loved that crossbow.
It was strange but at the same time it was exhilarating. He couldn't rely on the conventional weaponry he'd used during the war - vamps shrugged off bullets, and unless their head was completely severed or the body totally dismembered, laser wounds healed too. He had to use old weapons, and where he once would have used infra-red scanners and laser-sighting, he now used his natural abilities, which were growing stronger in leaps and bounds as the days passed.
By day, the team slept and trained, occasionally calling for an afternoon out to recharge, and at night the prowled the streets, looking for danger. Duo came to love those times the best; cloaked in darkness, he felt right at home, dispensing death to those who truly deserved it this time.
For this time, these murderers weren't soldiers blindly following the words of their general, doing their job and going home to their families if they survived. These were soulless creatures preying on the innocent, and Duo revelled in the chance at salvation for himself and the role he played in all the battles he'd fought.
Currently though, they were relaxing in the afternoon sunlight. It glinted off the snow like diamonds, making Duo glad he wore his sunglasses nearly constantly now. Suddenly, a snowball hit him in the back of the head, knocking them off his nose. Growling, Duo turned around and grinned maniacally, gathering his own ammunition. His attacker stuck out his tongue.
" Think your tough?"
" You're outclassed Dash-man!" Duo howled and leaped after his friend. Jen shook her head at their antics.
" Honestly, you'd swear they were children-"
Jen blinked as snow dripped down the side of her head, and sliding off her back. She turned slowly to see a giggling Ayan and an innocently whistling Steve and her eyes sparked.
" Oh you are SO going to regret that!"
Shrieking, she chased after the guilty party who led her to where Duo was sitting on Dash's shoulders, rubbing snow in his hair.
" Take THAT! And THAT!"
From the doorway of the motel they were staying at, Koby watched affectionately as his team romped in the snow. He was tempted to join them, but he was expecting a confirmation fax from the Vatican. He sighed, recalling the emergency phone call from the night before.
Another team had been ruthlessly slaughtered, but this time, the vamps had left a message for the Vatican and the world leaders about who their next big target would be, and the Vatican apparently was taking no chances. Koby shrugged. Targets meant big pay checks - if they want them to go that badly, they'd shell out big time. The kicker was he and his team were under no obligation to take the mission. As he had told Duo months ago, they didn't report to the Vatican, having learned from his great-grandfather the hard way that the church, for all it's supposed holiness, could not always be trusted.
Still, the Cardinal had sounded desperate, and when an emissary of the Pope had come to the phone to verify how serious the case was, Koby had been inclined to listen. The details would be arriving within the hour, and he was curious to know who was in the works to be killed that the Pope would be getting involved when such dealings were usually handled by the Bishop and the Cardinals.
The beeping of the fax machine suddenly cut through his thoughts like a knife and he turned away from the scenes of frolic before. Picking up the piece of paper, Koby read the information sheet carefully. The amount they were willing to pay was substantial, he noted with satisfaction. Then his eyes came to the intended target, and those same eyes widened in shock.
Turning, he strode to the door and leaned outside.
" Guys! Front and center!"
Four snow-covered and dishevelled heads popped up over a wall of snow that Koby guessed was an impromptu snow fort. Four salutes snapped up.
" Yes SIR!"
" Smart asses, the lot of them," Koby muttered before going back inside.
" So what's the deal?" Jen asked casually, sipping her coffee. Dash had made it just the way she liked it. Duo was staring at his with suspicion and then handed it off to Ayan who accepted it with a smile. Years of dealing with Dash and Jen had made her immune, and she assured Duo that it would be the same way for him in time. Koby came into the room carrying his own drink that he had made separate from Dash's batch and gave a second mug to Duo who smirked at Jen and took a gulp. Koby cleared his throat.
" I got a mission from the Vatican…"
The team booed and hissed. Koby patiently waited out the catcalls for a few seconds before raising his hand. " I know, I know - we all know they can't be trusted. " He paused for effect. " This was reinforced and endorsed by the Pope himself."
This made the whole team fall silent. The Pope was under so much protection, it was incredible. His word could be trusted and then some. Dash grunted.
" They payin'?"
Koby named the amount. Jen and Duo whistled. Dash nodded and sat back, apparently satisfied. Duo leaned forwards, twirling a dagger about his fingers almost absently.
" So who's the target?" he asked curiously. " That's a lot of money - must be someone important."
" It is." Koby hesitated. " Very important."
" Do they know?" Jen asked, somewhat bored. She'd been through too many of these sessions - assigned marks were pure hell. They never listened, and ended up being more of a pain then the vamps themselves. Koby nodded.
" They're aware all right. According to this-" he waved the fax at them."-there's already been an attempt last night. Suffice it to say, the guards that managed to survive were suitably convinced, and the Cardinal called the Pope who sent his emissary to speak to the Bishop." Koby shrugged. " You know the rest."
" So who's the target?" Duo asked.
" Actually, according to your story, you know who she is, " Koby said a bit reluctantly. Duo's story had not been very positive about this person. " It's Relena Peacecraft."
" I'm not going."
" Yes you are."
" No I'm not."
" Yes you are."
" No I'm not."
" Yes you are-"
" Oh, knock it off you two," Dash said irritably. Duo and Jen looked up from their argument, twin scowls on their faces.
" Stay out of this!"
" I'm with Dash," Steve said calmly. " Look, Duo - you're a part of the team, right?"
Duo nodded slowly. " Yesss…"
" Then you're going." Steve's voice turned hard. " Vamp killing is hard enough in small groups. But this is a big one - the head vamp himself is sending elites after the princess. We need the whole team for this. You know it."
Duo hung his head at the reproving tone in his friends voice. " I know. Believe me, I know. I just.."
" Just don't want to see Heero and the bitch," finished Jen. " Understood. But remember, you're there with all of us. If she says anything, she'll hear from me, guaranteed. She may be a princess, but we're going there as a favor to the Vatican. If she wants to live, she'll treat us - ALL of us - with respect."
Duo smiled wanly at the seriousness in Jen's voice, and watched as Dash and Steve echoed her sentiments. " I guess."
" No guesswork, kid," Koby said, walking by and ruffling Duo's bangs in the process. " I go, we all go. And guess what?"
" You're going."
Heero Yuy was a little wary of outside help being brought in. Despite the rumors he'd heard and the video tapes he was shown of a slew of guards being torn apart by apparently nothing since Vampires don't appear on film, he didn't completely trust the new people being brought it. He consoled himself with the thought that it was only temporary - the new team would train him and his men in the proper way to handle the mystic menace and then would leave. Heero scowled. He hated feeling inadequate.
Wufei stood at the door, impeccably dressed in his Preventor's uniform. He and Sally were there with a small unit of their own to assist the palace guards with sophisticated weaponry until such time as the new people arrived to lend them a hand. He nodded at the young Chief of Security.
" They are here."
Heero nodded and stood up. The two of them walked silently down the hall to the elevators. Punching in the numbers, they rode down to the second floor where all the conference rooms were. A team of palace guards dressed with the Peacecraft family emblem on their jackets met them and led them to the room where the Vampire Experts, Wufei had called them, were assembled. Pushing the door open, Heero strode in.
" Wow. You're kind of young to be head of security, now ain't ya?" A tall woman with dirty-blonde hair, wearing a worn brown leather jacket said with a sloping grin. Heero shrugged, face like stone.
" You are the…" he said the words like it had a bad taste. "..vampire hunters?"
" Yes." A brown-haired young man with a serious expression that matched his stepped forward. " My name is Koby, head of this team. I apologize for Jen's rudeness - when she was born, they neglected to put a pause button between her brain and her mouth."
Snickers came from the group as Jen snorted.
" Hn." Heero assessed them all silently. The leader seemed flippant, but his eyes told another story. He wore a black windbreaker and Heero had the feeling that if he had the proper scanner on him, he'd be able to detect dry blood in the fabric. This man took his job serious.
Heero's eyes then flicked over to Jen. She was the same - young in appearance, with eyes as old as his. She had seen death and destruction. The giant standing just behind her was a mountain of muscle. The blonde behind him waggled his fingers as Heero before taking another puff on his cigarette. There was one more, but he was partially concealed by shadows.
" Names," Heero said simply.
Koby grinned wryly. " Like I said, I'm Koby. This is Jen, the walking mountain is Dash, the cancer-inducing fellow beside him is Steve."
" And him?" Heero pointed to the one next to Steve. Koby's grin faded somewhat. Suddenly, the young man stepped forward and Heero stepped back, eyes wide with shock, Beside him, Wufei gasped out loud.
" I don't believe it."
" Hello Heero, Wufei," Duo said quietly. " I'm back."