Virgin Sacrifice

Chapter 7:Wolf's den

by Kracken


Virgin Sacrifice

Wolf Den

Duo spun and jammed his gun against Sally Po's head the moment he heard her exhale of breath behind him. Her eyes widened as his finger twitched on the trigger and she waited, frozen, until the mind caught up with reflexes. The gun cocked back then and it was Duo who let out a long, steadying breath. He blinked.

"A little warning next time," he whispered.

"And warn them too?" she shot back as she jutted her chin at the guards past the fall of rocks they were hiding behind. "Just how do you intend to get by them, boss? We don't have our cannon with us any longer. They took that with Peacecraft."

Duo signaled for silence and went back to his surveillance. Questions about how she was free, when everyone else had been captured, would have to wait. The most vulnerable point of the installation was before them and it was as loosely guarded as intelligence had reported.

Sally tapped on his shoulder. Duo looked back and she made a hand signal for 'trap'. Duo nodded, thinking the same thing himself. Everything was suspect now. He dropped his pack and began reducing his load to what he could zip into his clothing. Sally followed suit, taking only her most important medical equipment and a lethal looking black glock. Covering the rest in snow, Duo motioned Sally to follow him.

They skirted the installation, avoiding proximity alarms and surveillance cameras with difficulty. They made slow progress and Duo chafed at it. When the snow began to fall, he was, for once, glad. The snow would help cover their tracks and obscure the surveillance opticals.

"Every building has to breathe," Duo muttered as he found the grating, the heated air melting the snow around it. The security on the venting was tight, though, and Duo was forced to crawl on his belly several yards, disable security systems while the snow soaked into his clothing, and cut through the grating with a small laser. Inside, he had to hang upside down to reach another security system. Once that was disabled, he eyed the very narrow opening and the heat coming out of it. It was going to be hot, tight, and with no room to spare for parkas and overlarge snow boots.

Inching back cautiously, Duo said shortly to Sally, "Lie low. You can't fit. If I don't get back by dark, bug out and make your way back to a checkpoint."

"Not Smirkowski?" Sally wondered in confusion.

"Compromised," Duo replied angrily.

Sally was shocked. Her hand tightened on Duo's arm and he knew what she was thinking. They had left him there, asleep and vulnerable. He shook off her hand. He didn't have the luxury to vent his anger at her, or listen to any apologies. He gave her a stern look as he discarded his parka and his thick boots.

Shivering, Duo growled, "Follow orders this time," and then he was crawling back to the vent and trying to ignore twinges of claustrophobia as he squeezed himself inside.

It was tight and hot, the heated air blasting into Duo's face. It felt wonderful for exactly three minutes, but, after he had thawed from the outside cold, his fever and the heated metal around him began to slowly bake him. He brought up the installations sketchy plans, that he had filed in his memory, and decided that the heat had to be venting from an operation of some sort below him. He took guesses at what that operation might be, to keep himself occupied, while he inched through the tight space. Weapons manufacturing? Ore processing for shielding? More construction? The objective of Duo's team had been to acquire their targets and nothing more. Once they were clear, the installation was Preventer business and not theirs. Duo wasn't comfortable with that sort of blind, military attitude, but he knew that he would be lucky to get his own people out, let alone accomplish their original mission.

Bitterness griped Duo's gut. He was a commander because he had proven himself in and out of the field. Failure on this grand scale was something that he wasn't ready to accept, yet he wasn't willing to sacrifice everyone to accomplish it, either. There was an alternative to picking and choosing objectives, though, and he grinned. Just like in the war, he thought with relish, and felt the same kick of adrenaline. It banished sickness and weariness and he crawled forward with a renewed energy.

He couldn't make it obvious. Duo chose his target carefully, and then planted a virus from a handheld uplink to a cooling unit's mainframe. The resulting overload and smoke filled the corridor. That overheated unit would trip the shutdown of several other units and the overload would shock the system entirely. Alarms would sound and it would all look very innocent.

Someone might suspect. Duo was ready for that too. He had to save his targets for last and free the men that were most likely equipped to help him. His first choice was Heero, without hesitation. Finding him through his chip, took a moment of sweating and adjusting for interference on a handheld that was limited in its range inside of a building.

Silence was golden. Duo pocketed his handheld and then slipped knives out of their sheathes. With one in each hand, he steeled himself to kill people in a manner that was brutal compared to the sophisticated and bloodless laser weapons of the day.

Duo sneezed and wiped at his nose with the back of his hand. His head felt full of hot pain and a fire was running over his skin. His skin felt chilled at the same time and he shivered without his parka. Duo didn't want to know what that meant. He couldn't afford to let it to slow him down.

Duo found Heero's cell. He scratched that and changed the name to 'interrogation room' when he heard the grunts and the punches.

"Come on, pretty boy! Talk!"

Duo flinched, remembered a similar derisive voice saying almost the same thing to him during the war, when he had been Lady Une's prisoner.

"I'm a man, not a boy," a voice slurred, and there was a flurry of more blows.

"You'll be what I want you to be!" the voice snarled.

"We've shut down your operation," another man said in a more reasonable, calm tone. "All of your agents are dead or captured. Our mole in your organization made certain that we were prepared for your arrival. Everything is secure. We will begin loading the bio material into the launch tubes. Your government has less than two hours to respond to our demands."

Heero chuckled and it sounded as if it were coming through blood. "They'll turn this place into an ugly grease spot. They won't negotiate. We were only sent here to retrieve the scientists."

"I think not," the man replied as if he were amused."They won't chance us getting a missile off before they can do that."

"No?" Heero wondered in an innocent tone. There was another flurry of blows.

"What we require of you, is for you to tell us the frequency of the other two agent's implanted chips. We will find them eventually, but this will ensure that they won't do anything to hamper our-"

Alarms began going off. Duo smiled ferally as two guards outside of Heero's door stiffened and then went inside the room for orders. He had needed them all together. He rushed the door and took them by surprise.

It was bloody and quick. One man managed to get a shot off, but it split the air and slammed into the wall as Duo's knife was flung and thunking into his throat. The three other men didn't stand a chance. They were still fumbling with their surprise and disbelief, that an intruder had invaded their fortress and that someone so small could be any kind of threat, when they died by Duo's hand.

Panting hard and adrenalin rushing through him, Duo turned to Heero. Tied to a chair, the man was a mess of bruises and his lips were bloody. His blue eyes were so intense, that Duo twitched nervously as he cut the man's bonds. He wasn't prepared for Heero to grab him up, cradle his head in one large hand, and bring their lips together in a fierce kiss.

Duo's eyes flew wide and his hands came up to shove Heero back. Heero staggered, but his hands didn't leave Duo. He was looking Duo up and down and feeling for injuries.

"Did Smirkowski hurt you?" Heero demanded.

Duo growled, insulted, "No! Smirkowski didn't have a chance against me...Heero, what the hell was that all about?" Meaning the frantic kiss.

Heero was gripping Duo's shirt with both hands, but he seemed to be getting himself back under control. "I was... worried," he managed."When I found out that Smirkowski was a double agent, I-"
"Later!" Duo barked. "We have to move. I planted a virus. That's causing the alarms. I'm willing to bet not everyone is as dull as those guys, so let's get a move on. We need to release Fei next."

"I'll handle that. " Heero said, coming into full mission focus at last. "If you shut down corridors twenty six, eighteen, forty eight, and eleven, you'll hamper their movements in the installation."

"Will do," Duo replied, "Get your ass in gear, Yuy. I'll go after the targets as soon as I shut down the corridors. Once you get Fei, work on sabotage and releasing the others. We'll meet at the north ridge in one hour, If someone is a no show, they get left behind. I'll be pinging headquarters for dust off."

"Yes, sir," Heero replied and, when Duo darted back out into the corridor and towards his next goal, he felt sure that the man had his act back together again.

Heero's kiss burned on Duo's lips, but he stuffed his shock, confusion, and unanswered questions into his sub-conscience for later, along with the excited part of him that was whooping for joy.

Duo took two small wounds and took out several guards before he reached a likely panel. Prying it off, he hacked into the system, jammed all the doors on 'safe' mode, and then made his way down to what was serving as the lab/detention deck.

With the security checks off, as if a full blown emergency evac was in progress, Duo found it very easy to get through doors that other wise would have needed DNA scans, pass cards, and eye chips. Reaching the lab, he found his targets milling uncertainly around several downed guards and arguing about how to proceed with an escape. They all wore lab coats and were all past middle age, not promising for any long treks through difficult terrain.

It was then that Duo heard two beautiful words, ' jump ship'. "Where?" he demanded as he stepped over a man with a needle stuck in his neck. He was dead and it was ugly. He supposed acid had been in the syringe.

Two women and three men went defensive, but Duo held out his hands, his gun in one of them, and talked quickly, "I'm a Preventer."

He was surprised when they all relaxed and looked hopeful, "We know," one of the men, a heavy set man with round spectacles, said uncomfortably, "I received a fax with your photo... I wasn't aware that we had met..."

"We haven't!" Duo snarled. "Forget about it. Let's get to that ship."

"It's docked in a lower level," one of the women told him. "It's for emergencies. It launches through a tube on the North side. I'm very sure the rebels haven't found it yet. They were more interested in us and the labs."

Her words put Duo on an even higher alert. "Rebels? You mean, these aren't the guys who built this place?"

"No," she said as she pushed back some graying hair that had escaped her severe bun. "They took over about a week ago and shot anyone who didn't join them unconditionally. I'm afraid most of the people here refused and were killed."

Duo looked down at the dead men. These scientists were not victims. They were criminals, doing experiments that were both illegal and unethical. Their hands were dipped in blood up to their elbows and he couldn't forget that for a moment. "Come with me or I'll shoot everyone of you dead," Duo growled and they were all apprehensive again. "This is not a free ride to freedom. You're all going to a penal colony."

"We made a deal!" a tall, old man with a darker streak in his graying hair retorted. "For our cooperation, we are to be exonerated."

Duo scowled. Leave it to politicians to make a deal with the devil, or devils... "You didn't make any deals with me and you're mine until I hand you over. Now, get moving!"

Duo lost one of his scientists, the bad tempered 'skunk' as he thought of him, just as they reached the launch tube and the jump ship. The rebels were sloppy and at least now Duo knew why. This wasn't their operation, their plan, or the military malcontents that had gone along with it. This was a ragtag gang and they were mean, but undisciplined, and too young to have fought in any war. Duo felt stupid to lose even one scientist to their hotshot barrage as they poured into the corridor behind them, especially when Duo's more accurate return fire made them scramble and duck for cover.

The ship was big bellied and had short fins. As Duo raked his eyes over it, as they rushed into the tube and locked down the door for launch, he could only find fault with it. It wouldn't evade any serious pursuit. It was only spec'ed to carry as many as possible for a short distance, not evade big guns or pursuit ships.

They piled inside and Duo barked for them to strap themselves down. "It's going to be a wild ride, folks. I hope you didn't eat a lot for your last meal!" Duo called out as he threw himself into the command chair and began turning on systems. He cut the computer chatter and expertly over rode security checks and launch sequences. Then it was only left to mutter a prayer, to any god that cared to listen, and hit the boosters.

Not exploding immediately was a good sign. The launch tube doors opening, with a spray of snow and ice, was another. The splatter of gun fire from turrets was not. The rattle ping against the hull was unnerving, but Duo couldn't evade it as he turned the big ship on it's heel and took a long turn towards the dust off point, hoping against hope that Heero and his people would be there. He opened a secure line to Preventers and called for immediate back up.

Duo wasn't sure what warned him. He couldn't hear over the protesting crumpling of over stressed hull, the gun fire, and the roaring engines that were being told to break the atmosphere to the left instead of straight up. The satisfaction in that, was knowing that he was scorching the installation into slag under the boosters as he did it, taking out guns and a launch pad in the process. It took all of his attention though and he didn't have any to spare for passengers that had to be insane not to be strapped down. When a chill of trepidation tingled along his spine, Duo automatically whipped around and fired his gun. It took one of the men in the face. The motion sent blood and parts of the man all over the ship.

Duo was shaking, wondering what had possessed him. He didn't have time to check the man, to know whether he had been an actual threat or not, as he wrestled the yolk of the ship and brought it to heel, landing with a whirlwind of rocks and snow on the flattest point he could find.

"Heero," Duo muttered. "Be here, be here, be here..." It was a mantra as he unstrapped. The heat from the ship was melting everything and sending waves of distortion and steam into the air. One support wasn't on even ground and the ship moaning with stressed metal and lurched.

"Get unhooked and out of here!" Duo barked. "We're sitting ducks!"

"What was your plan?!" One man snarled. "To kill us all and escape? We're hardly three clicks from the installation. They'll recover us for certain!"

Duo grimaced as he pointed his gun at the man and looked down at the corpse. The dead man had an acid syringe clutched in his rigid hand. Duo felt sick, but then determined. "Get moving or I'll drop you right here. Your rebel friends are going to have to sort out their systems before they can launch anything. It's the men on foot we have to worry about. If you do what I say, you'll live until Preventer's can reach our location and pick us up. They'll drop from orbit and we won't be able to board until cool down, so I'm hoping your buddies don't have anything bigger than those guns."

Duo hit the hatch. He waved his gun. "Get off and get away from the ship. Don't touch anything and move fast. The heat's still pretty high on the boosters."

Sally made her appearance as they cleared the heat of the landing zone and she made a short signal that she was alone as Duo put her in charge of the scientists.

"Evac," Duo told her and she nodded, even as she looked pained. "I'm going back for the others." He didn't wait for her startled protests. He cut her off by ordering sharply, "First priority, Po. Watch them. They are not friendly."

"Yes, sir," Sally replied, but her eyes were angry as she slapped several tension bandages on his wounds and handed him her parka. Duo didn't complain, though he felt somewhat disconcerted when it fit him.

"If they aren't clear of the installation, then I'll rejoin you," Duo promised, though she hadn't asked for one. He wanted her to know that he hadn't forgotten all sense or procedure. "I just want to be there to cover their asses if they make it out."

Sally nodded , jaw firming, and then she trained her weapon on the scientists. "Over there!" She ordered, motioning to some rocks. "It'll give us some cover and allow us to access a back trail escape if any of them show up."

"It's foolish to remain here!" One of the woman wailed. "It's suicide!"

"For us, perhaps," Sally replied as she gave the woman a push towards the rocks, "but I doubt they'll be so careless with your lives."

Duo grinned at her back, not letting her see his pride in her, and then he was running as quickly as he could back towards the installation. He was winded and over heated after only a few yards. He refused to slow and his heart began to pound wildly in his chest. As his vision blurred and his head began to throb in time to his heart, he began to wonder if something as ridiculous as a cold could actually kill him.

Gun fire. Duo ducked down, gun nosing for a target. He topped a rise, burned black by his boosters, and enjoyed the warmth briefly as he tried to get his bearings and a look at what the enemy was firing at.

The figures were black dots against the snow before they were running for cover among the dappled black rocks all around the installation. They disappeared as quickly as that and Duo blinked to clear his eyes as he tried to find the best way to reach them. The pursuing men slowed and fired into the rocks.

"Good," Duo panted. "They don't have the instruments to know that she ship went down and they're scrambling to evac the installation now, running after targets for spite and to slow down the chance for radio contact and attack. The viruses will keep their ships on the ground until they bypass to manual." Duo knew his own skill and added time to it. It was close, but only if the Preventer evac ship attacked them rather than picked up the scientists. Duo knew how much of a chance he had for that scenario to occur. It had been made very clear what the main mission was all about.

Duo began climbing down rock and snow until he found an easier trail, and then he moved as quickly as he could over the uneven ground towards his people. Sally had their first priority well in hand. Duo was going to take care of his priority now.

"You better be there, Heero," Duo growled, "and you better have all my people with you."




On to Chapter eight

Back to Chapter six

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